Man accused of damaging Pittsburgh police SUV during violent protest pleads not guilty

PITTSBURGH — A man facing federal charges for allegedly damaging a Pittsburgh police SUV when some people began rioting during a protest in Pittsburgh pleaded not guilty Tuesday morning.

Brian Bartels, 20, is charged with obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, institutional vandalism, rioting and reckless endangerment of another person. The incident happened at the end of May near PPG Paints Arena.

Authorities say Bartels went to the protest to incite violence and had rocks and spray-paint in a backpack.

Bartels is accused of breaking the windows out of a marked Pittsburgh police SUV “against the wishes of peaceful protesters who tried to stop him.” Undercover police officers also witnessed him grab cans of spray paint from his backpack and start spray-painting the police car, according to police paperwork.

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Police were tipped off to Bartels after they got a call from someone who identified him from social media and watching the protest unfold on the news.

When Bartels pleaded not guilty Tuesday, he requested a jury trial.

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