The Pittsburgh police officer who was acquitted this week on assault charges when a surveillance video clearly shows he assaulted a teenager will once again face the same charges after the FBI announced it would launch its own investigation.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala made the announcement this afternoon, informing reporters that he would refile charges against Sergeant Stephen Matakovich.
Hopefully, somebody decides to investigate District Judge Robert Ravenstahl, who acquitted Matakovich on Monday, saying the cop was only defending himself from the teen who had assaulted him.
The video not only showed the opposite but even a Pittsburgh cop who is considered a “use-of-force expert” testified that Matakovich was out of line when he shoved Gabriel Despres to the ground twice, following it up with several punches.
The refiling of the charges are separate from what the FBI investigation determines.
The Allegheny County district attorney will refile charges against a Pittsburgh police officer in connection with an arrest he made during the WPIAL high school football championships at Heinz Field — a case which is also being reviewed by the FBI.
“Clearly, there’s probable cause,” District Attorney Stephen Zappala said Thursday, regarding the decision to file charges of simple assault and official oppression against Sgt. Stephen Matakovich.
Officer David Wright, the city’s expert on use of force, testified for the prosecution that Matakovich’s response — which included shoving Despres to the ground and striking him in the face — “was not reasonable.”
U.S. Attorney David Hickton, whose office would prosecute any charges filed by the FBI, acknowledged the review of the Matakovich case but declined to make any specific comment.
“The FBI is looking at that, and there would be federal jurisdiction and when that’s ready to be talked about, we’ll talk about it,” Hickton said
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the district attorney was also bothered by the number of cops attending the hearing.
Mr. Zappala said his office also relayed concerns to Chief Cameron McLay about behavior of dozens of uniformed officers who attended Sgt. Matakovich’s hearing this week and applauded when the counts were dismissed.
“That should not occur,” Mr. Zappala said.
He said that Chief McLay is investigating whether those officers who attended were on-duty at the time.
There are also various activist groups seeking to have Judge Ravenstahl removed from the stand, which would generate nationwide applause.
Meanwhile, Despres, the 19-year-old man who was attacked by Matakovich, is still facing aggravated assault charges against the officer.But Ravenstahl decided to acquit anyway, receiving rousing applause from the multitude of cops who had filled the courtroom in their usual attempt to intimidate the hands of justice in their favor.