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Cubs fan accuses officer who body-slammed him of violating his rights

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015, 5:30 p.m.

A goat-costumed Chicago Cubs fan body-slammed, handcuffed and thrown out of PNC Park by a Pittsburgh police officer has notified the city he thinks the officer violated his civil rights, his attorney said Wednesday.

Dimitri Mitalas, 31, of Chicago had back and wrist injuries, and went to the hospital once he returned home after watching the Cubs beat the Pirates in the National League wild card game Oct. 7, said Phil Turcy, a Chicago attorney representing Mitalas.

“I think that he totally abused his discretion and he violated our client's civil rights,” Turcy said of the Pittsburgh police officer he identified as Kyle Nelson. “This was police brutality in its clearest form.”

Turcy sent a letter to the city's solicitor Tuesday notifying Pittsburgh of Mitalas' intent to sue.

A video posted to YouTube shows Nelson escorting Mitalas, who was wearing a Cubs jacket and goat costume, out of PNC Park. The situation escalates. Nelson wraps his arms around Mitalas from behind as Mitalas appears to be holding onto a railing. The officer picks Mitalas off the ground and takes him to the ground.

Mayor Bill Peduto called for the city's Office of Municipal Investigations to investigate the complaint. The police department and Pittsburgh's Citizen Police Review Board are conducting independent reviews of the incident.

Turcy confirmed the name of the officer to the Tribune-Review and said he is looking into other possibly inappropriate conduct by Nelson at the game. The police department declined to confirm the identity of the officer Wednesday. A woman who answered the phone at a number listed for Nelson said he was not available.

Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1 President Howard McQuillan defended Nelson's actions, saying Mitalas refused to follow the officer's orders to comply and left the officer no choice but to use force.

Turcy praised Peduto's call for an investigation.

“Right now, the focus is on the misconduct of this police officer,” Turcy said, declining to elaborate.

Mitalas is a graphic artist who runs a T-shirt company that designs and sells shirts outside Chicago sporting events. An usher kicked him out of his seat at PNC Park when a Pirates fan threw a tobacco juice container at him, Turcy said.

Pirates fans who witnessed that incident and the incident between Mitalas and the officer have called Turcy offering to help. The video posted to YouTube is a mash-up of two videos, one filmed by a friend of Mitalas that ends when a PNC Park employee knocks the phone out of the unidentified friend's hand and says to stop filming, and a second video captured by a Pirates fan and given to Mitalas outside the stadium after the game, Turcy said.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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