Man dies after arrest in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield, neighbors say police used excessive force

PITTSBURGH — A man has died after Pittsburgh Police say he was non-compliant and a taser was used during an arrest over a stolen bike.

He was initially listed in critical condition at a hospital and it’s unclear how he died.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner identified the man as Jim Rogers, 54, of Pittsburgh.

Neighbors told Channel 11 a homeless man took a bike that was for sale for $50 in someone’s front yard for a spin before bringing it back. They say he was also seen sitting on someone’s front porch.

Channel 11 is focusing on several major questions surrounding this man’s death, including whether excessive force was used in this situation and whether a crime was even committed.

Beth Pittinger, executive director of the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, is also asking those same questions.

“We are going to look at how that officer was trained and has that officer demonstrated competence in those techniques including recognizing and assessing potential mental health issues,” explained Pittinger.

Police were called to Harriet Street in Bloomfield around 10:30 Wednesday morning for a “theft in progress.”

Two neighbors, visibly shaking and crying, said what they witnessed was disturbing.

This all happened in the front yard of a family’s house. Some neighbors say the suspect was aggressive and resisting arrest. Others say they pleaded with the officer to stop and took out cell phones to document what happened.

The suspect was taken to a local hospital to be evaluated, which is standard procedure when a taser is deployed. Pittsburgh Police say before he got inside, the suspect had a medical emergency and was in critical condition.

The woman who owns the bike says she’s just trying to get rid of it and he could have had it for free.

Law enforcement sources told Channel 11 that the suspect was violent.

There is body cam footage from multiple officers showing multiple angles of the incident. Our sources told us that the suspect was taken down, handcuffed, rolled over and placed in the police car, where he was still violent.

We are also told that as officers arrived at the hospital, the suspect got quiet, went unconscious and lost his pulse.

Allegheny County Police are now taking over the investigation. The officer who deployed the taser is on paid administrative leave, which is department procedure.

“We know he was tasered a couple of times, we heard anywhere from 3 to 4 to 5 times, it’s still too soon to know that and we do not know if his death is directly attributable to the officers’ use of force, we will be looking at whether that use of force was necessary and reasonable given the circumstances,” an Allegheny County police spokesperson said.

Channel 11 asked Allegheny County Police a slew of questions, including:

  • If officers were aware of any mental health issues.
  • If any de-escalation tactics were used before the taser was deployed.
  • Whether officers had considered calling in a mental health professional to assist in this incident.

At the time of this report, we haven’t received any answers.

Cell phone video of the incident has been turned over to the review board, and its head is hoping neighbors help in their investigation. In the meantime, four officers are now on paid administrative leave, which is standard policy.