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Pittsburgh’s mayor wants police policy review after man dies following incident with taser

PITTSBURGH — A news conference is planned and Pittsburgh’s Mayor wants a police policy review after a man died following an incident in Bloomfield.

A man, Jim Rogers, died at the hospital the day after police deployed a Taser on him in connection with a stolen bike investigation. Police said Rogers refused to comply with their orders. Neighbors caught the incident on cellphone video.

Mayor Bill Peduto said there needs to be thorough review of the police department’s Taser guidelines and policy. Mayor Peduto said he couldn’t discuss specifics due to the ongoing investigation by county police.

“First and foremost, it’s a tragic event and obviously my thoughts are with the family. You never want to see anything like this ever occur and especially not for something that involves just the stealing of a bicycle,” Peduto said. “It never should have ended up this way. And there’s a lot of different questions that have to be asked.”

At one point on cellphone video recorded by neighbors, an officer order Rogers to put his hands behind his back. The officer then fires his Taser and Rogers tries to run, but falls to the ground. Rogers then rolls over several times as the officer pushes him. More officers arrive and Rogers is conscious and alert at this point. Investigators said he became unresponsive en route to a nearby hospital and was admitted in critical condition before he died.

The Taser policy for Pittsburgh police states “a Taser may be justified when an individual is exhibiting behavior that would lead an officer to use it as a reasonable force option.”

“There’s a number of questions over the entire interaction that have to be asked internally and that we need to look at this entire tragic even and to be able to create better practices,” Peduto said.

Allegheny County police are investigating Rogers’ death.

A group of people gathered Friday night in Friendship Park calling for the release of the officer’s name who deployed his taser on Rogers. Many folks in that crowd also called for revolution and for the police to be abolished altogether.

Channel 11 is not identifying the officer involved because he has not been charged with a crime or disciplined. He is on paid administrative leave while Allegheny County Police conduct an independent investigation.