Citizens Police Review Board to review video of downtown arrest deemed ‘justifiable’ by officers

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh police are again under the microscope, this time the Citizens Police Review Board will look at the video of a rough arrest that was deemed justifiable by officers but called into question by community members.

“In our opinion, there was excessive force,” said Tim Stevens the executive director for The Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP).

>>> Pittsburgh Public Safety aware of ‘use of force’ by officers during arrest, incident under review

The video shows Jashon Martin lying on the ground with several officers restraining him. One officer then begins to repeatedly punch him, and shortly after another officer knees him, all while he’s still on the ground.

The arrest immediately sparked outrage: community members protested, and the NAACP, Alliance for Police Accountability, and B-PEP all wrote a letter to the department urging an investigation.

“I was upset by it. It seemed like that many officers that are trained to apprehend people and place people into custody could have done that without punches being thrown,” Stevens said.

>>> Mayor Ed Gainey’s team working on ‘next steps’ following controversial arrest in downtown Pittsburgh

The department deemed the officers’ actions justifiable and said Martin had been recorded dealing drugs and was believed to be armed.

“We still disagree with them so we are glad to see that the Citizens Police Review Board led by Beth Pittinger will be examining this case thoroughly,” Stevens said.

“I don’t think anybody objects to Mr. Martin being arrested it’s just a matter of how that custody was executed, and that’s what we will look at,” said Elizabeth Pittinger, the Executive Director for the Pittsburgh Citizen’s Review Board.

The board can hold a public hearing - where they’ll make recommendations that the city can accept or disregard.

“The board will deliberate and determine if there were acts of misconduct, they would make a finding fact and recommendation to the mayor and the chief,” Pittinger said.

>>> City of Pittsburgh introduces board to investigate use of force incidents

Advocates say it’s a step in the right direction to continue to discuss how policing is done.

“Let’s not assume that’s the end of the discussion,” Steven said.

The review board’s investigation will likely take a few months and if a recommendation is given the city will have 30 days to respond.

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