Attorneys protest date of trial in Mt. Oliver death
Attorneys for Mt. Oliver police and a Pittsburgh officer have appealed a federal judge’s refusal to delay a trial in a civil rights lawsuit stemming from the suffocation death of an Altoona man.
U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab has set the trial for Dec. 8 in the death of Charles A. Dixon Sr., 43, who was smothered during his arrest at the Mt. Oliver Volunteer Fire Hall on Dec. 22.
The office of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. is reviewing the evidence to determine if charges should be filed against police. Mike Manko, Zappala’s spokesman, said there was “no indication the review would be completed by the time the federal trial is scheduled to start.”
The defense attorneys contend that if the officers give depositions in the civil case, it could constitute a waiver of their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in any criminal case.
Dr. Cyril H. Wecht, the county coroner, has ruled that Dixon’s death was a homicide and that police should be charged, but he didn’t determine which ones.
Wecht urged Zappala to find out which officers piled onto Dixon and to prosecute those responsible.
Attorney Paul Krepps, who represents six Mt. Oliver police officers, Chief Frank Mosesso, Mayor John Smith and the borough, and attorney Bryan Campbell, counsel for Pittsburgh police Officer Kevin Walter, filed the appeal to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after Schwab denied their request to place the lawsuit on inactive status.
Attorney J. Kerrington Lewis, counsel for Dixon’s son, Charles A. Dixon Jr., who is administrator of his estate, said he is reviewing whether to file a motion to quash the appeal.
He said Mt. Oliver officers Matthew Juzwick, Michael DeLuca, Matthew Abel, Ronald Lacher, Mark Manno and Kevin Cummings refused to give depositions earlier this week.
Kerrington said Pittsburgh officers Paul Abel, brother of Matthew Abel, and Walters hadn’t been called yet to give depositions. He said the filing of an appeal would indicate they refused to testify.