No Federal Charges To Be Filed Against Officers In Bar Brawl

Feb 27, 2019

More than four months since four Pittsburgh police officers got into a bar fight with members of the Pagans motorcycle club, federal prosecutors say they will not file charges against the officers.


The Oct. 12 brawl broke out between four undercover officers and members of the biker gang at Kopy's Bar in the city's South Side neighborhood, according to authorities.


The FBI investigated the incident for possible civil-rights violations, but on Wednesday the U.S. Attorney's Office announced, “There is no basis for charging any individual with a federal crime.”


Beth Pittinger, Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board, was stunned federal prosecutors are not bringing charges.


“Excessive use of force against a citizen against a citizen is a violation of their civil rights. It’s criminal,” said Pittinger, whose board reviews complaints of police misconduct separate from the city's internal disciplinary process. “[That] these officers are not being charged is astonishing to me.”


Pittinger added that, by not bringing charges, federal prosecutors broke from precedent. She points out that a city police officer was convicted in federal court after beating up an intoxicated man at Heinz Field in 2015.


Four of the Pagans have filed suit against the city of Pittsburgh, alleging that their civil rights were violated.


The city is investigating the incident, and Pittinger said the Citizen Police Review Board will decide whether to launch its own probe once all criminal investigations have ended.


On Wednesday, a spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala did not confirm whether his office is inquiring into the matter.


Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said the detectives were placed on paid leave while local and federal investigations proceeded.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.