• Federal civil-rights suit claims pattern of excessive force by Elizabeth Boro. police

    ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. - A Pittsburgh attorney released a video Wednesday as part of a federal civil-rights lawsuit alleging excessive use of force by Elizabeth Borough police.
    The lawsuit, which names two officers, alleges the video is just one example of a larger problem with the Police Department. It claims this isn't an isolated incident.
    Channel 11 News could not find any other examples of lawsuits filed against Elizabeth Borough police for brutality involving black victims. However, the lawsuit states the alleged incident "is one of many encounters in which young African-American men who are taken into custody by borough police officers who become the victims of police brutality."
    Calls and text messages from Channel 11 to attorney Todd Hollis, who filed the lawsuit, were not returned on Thursday. 
    On Wednesday, when the story was first reported, Hollis said the incident happened almost two years ago. Hollis said he wanted to wait until the criminal charge against his client was resolved before filing the lawsuit.
    Joshua Brooks, 21, was arrested April 17, 2015, on suspicion of heroin possession. Hollis said Brooks, whose left arm was in a cast, was shackled to a bench.
    Hollis said in the video, Brooks stands up from the bench and refuses to sit down. Police Officer Garrett Kimmell then hits Brooks multiple times and Brooks fights back in an effort to restrain Kimmell, Hollis explained.
    A second officer eventually appears and assists with subduing Brooks, and Kimmell is seen firing a stun gun, Hollis said. 
    “The acts that happened on that particular day don't denote honor, and I think it brings dishonor to all the great police officers in our city and the country,” Hollis said.
    The lawsuit states that after Brooks’ arrest, additional charges were filed, including resisting arrest and aggravated assault on an officer. Hollis said the charges were dropped after the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office saw the surveillance video.
    The lawsuit filed Wednesday accuses Kimmell of excessive force and accuses the second officer of failure to intervene.
    “Sometimes, what you do in the dark comes to light, and I think this is one of those instances,” Hollis said.
    In August -- 16 months after the video was recorded -- Channel 11 spoke with Kimmell about another incident during which he helped save a woman's life. At that time, Channel 11 learned he is the only Elizabeth Borough police officer who voluntarily wears a body camera. 
    "Regardless of what you're doing, it captures everything that I do when I'm on an incident, good or bad. It protects me as an officer, my fellow officers, and it protects the public," Kimmell said at that time. 
    Calls to the borough solicitor were not returned on Thursday, and the borough police chief said he can't comment at this time. 
    Stay with Channel 11 News and WPXI.com for continuing coverage. 


    Next Up: