Pittsburgh Cop Caught on Camera Beating Teen Acquitted
The assault was caught on camera, a Pittsburgh cop shoving a teen down to the ground twice, then punching him a few times before handcuffing him, which led to criminal charges against Sergeant Stephen Matakovich last year.
All because the 19-year-old man would not leave the outside of Heinz Field where a high school championship football game was being played on November 28.
Well, actually, Gabriel Despres did try to leave after being ordered to do so by a group of security guards.
But they had already called over Matakovich, who was working security detail that night, so Matakovich ordered Despres back, apparently to show him who was boss.
Despres, 19, admitted in court he had been drinking and was trying to get into the game to join his friend. He even admitted he refused to leave at first.
But the surveillance video does not show him to be staggering nor combative. It just shows him walking normally and stranding straight his hands in his pocket.
But Matakovich claimed that Despres “lunged toward him, punched the sergeant in his chest, and also grabbed the sergeant’s jacket,” according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
He also claimed Despres went into the usual fighting stance cops are so fond of claiming.
“Despres stepped his leg back and bladed his body slightly and appeared to have clenched his right fist … and then rocked onto the balls of his feet from his heels.”
None of that was captured on video. Not even close.
But Matakovich apparently wrote his report before realizing his actions were caught on camera, which led him to be charged with two misdemeanors, including simple assault and official oppression.
But in court, Matakovich argued that Despres never took his hands out of his pockets, which, of course, made him fear for his life.
Naturally, District Justice Robert Ravenstahl sided with the cop, proclaiming in court that Despres was the aggressor. Seriously, he said that.
District Justice Robert Ravenstahl
It’s not clear if he even saw the video, but he dropped the charges nonetheless.
The courtroom was filled with cops in their customary manner of judicial intimidation, who all exploded in applause.
Ravenstahl’s son, Luke, is the city’s former mayor.