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Pittsburgh police face lawsuit over alleged Fourth Amendment violation

Updated:

ARLINGTON, Pa - A traffic stop led to Pittsburgh police violating the rights of an Arlington couple when officers broke down the door of their house to look for weapons, a lawsuit filed Friday alleges.

Pittsburgh police Officer David Sisak stopped a car driven by Joseph Milcarek Jr. on Feb. 4, 2012, because he allegedly had a suspended license plate, according to the complaint filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. While checking Milcarek's information,

Sisak learned he was the defendant in a protection from abuse proceeding involving a woman who was the female passenger in his car. Sisak also found a shotgun shell in the car.

Sisak could not be reached for comment.

Police spokeswoman Diane Richard said she did not know about the lawsuit and declined comment.

According to the complaint, Sisak arrested Milcarek for violating the PFA and sought for a search warrant at the address listed on Milcarek's license to look for weapons. Defendants in PFA cases are not allowed to have firearms or ammunition.

When Sisak and other officers arrived at the home, neighbors told them Milcarek didn't live there. Instead, the address belonged to Milcarek's parents, Joseph, 71, and Mary Milcarek, 67.

After obtaining a search warrant, police broke down the rear door of the house and "unnecessarily damaged a number of items in the home" during their search, the complaint alleges. When the officers left, they left the broken door leaning against the frame, the lawsuit says.

The Milcareks said Sisak and other officers violated their Fourth Amendment rights because they invaded their privacy. The lawsuit does not identify the other officers by name.

"They really had no reason to be there," said Chuck Hoebler, an attorney representing the couple. "They searched the home without justification."

This article was written by Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE.