PITTSBURGH — A hearing Tuesday was continued for four members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club on charges they're facing after a brawl with undercover officers at a South Side bar.
Frank Deluca, 36; Michael Zokaites; 38, Erik Heitzenrater, 28; and Bruce Thomas, 61, were scheduled for a preliminary hearing Tuesday. Channel 11's cameras were there as two of the men walked into the courtroom.
Each are facing several charges, including aggravated assault and riot.
Prosecutors told the judge they need more time and haven't had a chance to review more than six hours of video from inside the bar.
The suspects' attorneys said they were disappointed with the outcome. The defense claims the undercover officers were drinking for several hours.
"The main aggressor in the incident is seen drinking a fifth and half of Jack Daniels in shots over the course of four or five hours. Our clients are minding their own business at the bar trying to ignore them," defense attorney Wendy Williams said.
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At one point, the video shows one of the undercover officers lifting his shirt and revealing a gun. Defense attorneys contend that was meant to intimidate the Pagans.
“The conduct of the officers in this case, it is clear, they are not on an undercover assignment. And if they are, the city should be ashamed of themselves,” Williams said.
According to court documents, the officers were at Kopy's Bar on 12th Street to investigate a drug complaint when the fight broke out.
Channel 11 obtained surveillance video from inside Kopy’s Bar when the incident happened.
At first, undercover officers and the men appear cordial. Then words are exchanged and a fight breaks out.
Deluca can be seen shoving the undercover detective, and then several men jump in from both sides of the bar and fists begin flying.
Eventually, uniformed officers are called in for backup and pepper spray is used.
Williams claims police were clearly at fault and that there is even more video showing their “antagonistic and egregious behavior."
Pittsburgh police issued a statement saying:
"This is an ongoing investigation and to maintain the integrity of the investigation, we cannot comment except to say that all incidents involving the use of force are reviewed."
Target 11 learned Monday that the city's Office of Municipal Investigations and the Citizen’s Police Review Board are also now looking into the altercation.
Tuesday night, the Citizen Police Review Board voted to begin their own investigation. They said there are too many conflicting reports about the videos and the actions that followed.
"The behavior of the police, the drinking, that's one thing. But when it involves other persons being affected and injured as a result, that's the critical issue," said Sister Patrice Hughes, a CPRB board member.
Allegheny County district attorney spokesperson Mike Manko released the following statement:
"There are several issues with this incident that are problematic. Once our office receives all the evidence that we have requested, we will be able to more specifically address these charges in court."
All four men are set to go before a judge on Nov. 16.
Cox Media Group