Video shows Braddock police officer punching handcuffed man
Braddock's mayor and police chief will decide if an outside agency should investigate the actions of a borough police officer who was captured on video punching a handcuffed suspect as he was placing him in a police cruiser.
Mayor John Fetterman said Tuesday the part-time officer, Kevin Lukart, has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
"As soon as I can sit down with the police chief and the public safety committee, we will find out what, if any, actions are appropriate and if we will bring in an outside agency," Fetterman said.
Lukart had arrested a man suspected of breaking into a home on Mills Avenue about 1:50 a.m. and cutting copper pipe from the basement, Fetterman said.
The video shot by a WTAE-TV Channel 4 cameraman appears to show Lukart leading the unnamed suspect to the police cruiser and striking him as the man gets into the vehicle. Click here to watch the video.
Fetterman said the suspect was being difficult and was making guttural noises and might have been preparing to spit on the officer. The man was not injured, Fetterman said. He and another suspect were taken to Night Court for arraignment.
Fetterman said he is reserving judgment on the officer's actions until the conclusion of the inquiry.
The mayor said the results of the investigation will be made public. He added the department has "zero tolerance" for police brutality.
Fetterman said Lukart has been a good police officer and credited Lukart with "performing heroically" in late August when a pipe bomb was discovered on Library Street. No arrests have been made in the incident.
"At this time, I'm standing behind the officer," Fetterman said. "He's a fair and decent man."
Council President Jesse Brown said he doesn't know all the circumstances surrounding the incident, but he doesn't like what he saw on the video.
"It was not professional police work for an officer to do something like that," Brown said. "What I saw didn't look too good."