PITTSBURGH — A local man claims he was illegally handcuffed and detained by a Pittsburgh police officer for asking for a police report. Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle found out the officer at the center of this is no stranger to controversy.
As a tow truck driver, Deandre Rutherford deals with a lot of police officers.
"I'm on scene with a lot of cops. I don't got a problem with cops. I got problems with bad cops," said Rutherford.
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Rutherford had a problem when he responded to a frantic call from a relative who had just been assaulted. He pulled out his cellphone camera and began rolling when he asked the officers if they planned to arrest the suspects. He admits he got a little heated, but only after he says Pittsburgh Police Officer Paul Abel lashed out at him.
"Were you belligerent or yelling at them?" asked Earle.
"I just said, 'He's not getting arrested?' And no one said anything, but Abel, he yelled at me," said Rutherford.
"What did he say?" said Earle.
"'Hey something' or 'yo something,'" said Rutherford. "His aggression, the way he yelled at me, that's what made me pull out this camera."
Rutherford left the scene. Five days later, he received a summons for interference with official duties. He wanted more details, so he went to the police department and asked for a report. He was recording again as Abel came out. As Rutherford was leaving the station, he says Abel confronted him in the parking lot.
"He came up on me just like this," Rutherford showed Earle. "He went in my back pocket. Just like that. He took my wallet out and put me in handcuffs."
"Did he say anything to you?" asked Earle.
"He said I was under arrest for obstruction," Rutherford responded.
Target 11 confirmed Rutherford's account with a law enforcement source. Rutherford says Abel put him in a police car and searched his vehicle, then released him after speaking with another officer.
"Illegally detained and illegally searched," said Rutherford. "He illegally searched my vehicle and he arrested me but there's no report of that."
The department and the police officer's union both declined comment. But over the years, Abel has been the subject of multiple complaints regarding excessive force and false arrests.
Rutherford filed a complaint with the Citizens Police Review Board and the Office of Municipal Investigation. That board has now opened a formal investigation into the claim.
The CPRB is attempting to get body cam video that apparently captured the arrest.
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