Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has threatened to fire a police detective who was working an off-duty security detail when he allegedly placed a stun gun against the neck of a man who fell down before he was arrested for public drunkenness Saturday night in the South Side.
The video in question shows Officer Frank Rende yelling and waving around his stun gun in a crowd in South Side Saturday. Officials said the officer was working an off-duty detail at a nearby bar during the city's St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
According to the criminal complaint, Rende said 27-year-old Mark Keyser was intoxicated when he defied his order to leave a bar. Rende also said Keyser used several profanities during their exchange.
Rende is seen breaking away from the crowd and walking toward Keyser, who was about 30 feet away.
The complaint said Rende wrote, "I then placed the Taser to the side of the actor's neck and pushed the actor away from the bar, not activating the Taser.” The police report stated that Keyser lost his footing and fell.
Ravenstahl called Rende's actions “flat-out wrong and completely unacceptable,” and said he planned to meet with public safety officials and recommend that Rende be fired Monday afternoon.
“My first glance at the video is that it’s very disturbing,” Ravenstahl said. “It’s something that in my mind shouldn’t have happened. Someone better give me a real good reason why he shouldn’t be fired.”
Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said Monday that tests show the stun gun wasn't fired, which supports Rende's version of the incident as spelled out in a criminal complaint.
But Ravenstahl said he still believes the officer should be fired because the mayor believes an internet video of the encounter shows Rende going out of his way to confront the man, who apparently lost his footing and fell.
“Clearly his force took the individual to the ground. So regardless of whether or not the Taser went off, the officer was clearly wrong,” Ravenstahl said.
Ravenstahl said he wants to send a message to officers that such actions won't be tolerated.
“It’s just unacceptable and that’s just not the way police should be acting,” Ravenstahl said. “My recommendation will be, unless there’s other information that I haven’t seen, is to terminate that officer.”