President of Pittsburgh Police union blasts release of internal report into tasing of Jim Rogers

PITTSBURGH — More fallout over the tasing incident involving Jim Rogers.

Wednesday, the Pittsburgh Police officers’ union president is blasting the release of a confidential internal report into the tasing of Rogers.

That report was leaked to the media yesterday and is highly critical of the officers who responded to the October incident in Bloomfield.

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The report said a series of procedural failures contributed to a tragic outcome.

The report questioned the use of force and suggested a lack of supervision and the officers’ failure to recognize a suspect in distress.

Robert Swartzwelder, the president of the officers’ union, said the report should not have been released because of the ongoing investigation by the District Attorney. He’s investigating to determine if any criminal charges should be filed against any of the officers. On Tuesday, the Mayor’s office announced that eight officers would face disciplinary action in connection with the incident. Sources told Target 11 that officers face action ranging from termination to reprimands.

Swartzwelder told Target 11 that the report’s release compromises the DA’s investigation.

“My initial reaction is one of sadness, unprofessionalism, conduct irresponsibility on the levels of high command,” said Swartzwelder, who noted that only the Police chief can release that information, and it did not come from him.

Swartzwelder suggested the leaked report, which only included an executive summary, does not tell the whole story and has been taken out of context.

“The public’s been misled. The media has been misled. This is a bad sign, and the officers due process themselves and the officers’ names have now been slandered without context,” said Swartzwelder, who hadn’t seen the report and declined to talk specifics but suggested it may contain conflicting information.

For example, while the report appears to question officer Keith Edmonds’ use of a taser on a noncompliant suspect, the department’s policy authorizes its use to affect an arrest and gain compliance.

“I don’t want to get into the facts of this case, but if the officer is incapable of bringing that person under control and they’re alone, then they may have to resort to the taser,” said Swartzwelder.

The district attorney said in a statement that most of the leaked information was already known to investigators but acknowledged some discrepancies.

“Some of the substance is inconsistent with prior statements, thereby requiring review for the possibility of additional criminal conduct,” said the release.

Swartzwelder said whoever leaked the report should be fired.

A spokesman for the Mayor’s office said they had not seen the report, and they are extremely upset about the leak. He said they are working on getting to the bottom of it now.