1 Pittsburgh cop involved in bar brawl with Pagans reassigned
One of four Pittsburgh police officers involved in a bar brawl last month with members of the Pagans motorcycle club has been reassigned while the investigation continues, officials said Wednesday.
Mayor Bill Peduto earlier Wednesday said multiple officers had been reassigned. A spokesman for the mayor later said only one officer had been given new duties.
It was not clear which of the four officers had been reassigned, only that he remained in the narcotics and vice unit. Police Chief Scott Schubert could not be reached.
Detectives David Honick, David Lincoln, Brian Burgunder and Brian Martin were working an undercover detail when they arrived at Kopy’s on South 12th Street about 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11. Six members of the Pagans arrived about four hours later. An argument between several of the detectives and at least one Pagan escalated into a brawl about 12:40 a.m. Oct. 12.
Four Pagans — Frank Deluca, Michael Zokaites, Erik Heitzenrater and Bruce Thomas — were arrested. District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. later withdrew the charges. Security footage captured the melee, including one officer punching Deluca 19 times in the head.
Deluca and Heitzenrater have filed lawsuits.
The Office of Municipal Investigations, the Citizens Police Review Board and the FBI are investigating the incident. Peduto said he hopes OMI can expedite the process.
“This is a situation that you don’t want to see occur,” Peduto said. “There are a lot of different questions, not only on the use of force and whether it was warranted, but also whether the officers cover was blown, and if it was why were they still there, the amount of alcohol involved, and the actions of the officers at the scene.”
Attorneys for the Pagans have alleged the undercover officers had consumed copious amounts of alcohol. Peduto said the department needs to change its policies for undercover work.
“With narcotics and vice, you’re going to have situations where officers are involved in a situation where they don’t want to have their cover blown,” he said. “Obviously you’re not going to go to a bar and order chocolate milk, but at the same time there has to be accountability to be able to carry out your job.”
Editor’s note: The headline on this story has been updated to reflect that only one police officer has been reassigned. A previous headline said four officers, based on information provided by Mayor Bill Peduto.
Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, [email protected] or via Twitter @meganguzaTrib.