A suburban Pittsburgh police department has questions to answer after one of its officers was caught on camera verbally abusing a Black woman and slamming her onto the back of his police car while she was handcuffed.
The incident happened in North Versailles Township, Pa., a community of fewer than 10,000 people situated about 13 miles east of downtown Pittsburgh. The video first started making the social media rounds among Black activists and community members in Pittsburgh over the weekend and was first reported by local CBS affiliate KDKA.
It shows a white officer, who borough officials have not identified, cursing at a woman as she lays on her stomach on the ground. She was then forcefully pushed onto the back of the police car as the officer yells again, accusing her of causing a rear-collision accident with another vehicle that the officer’s children were in.
That car is unseen in the video; the video appears to have been shot by a passenger in the car the handcuffed woman was driving.
The Root was able to contact with the on woman on Tuesday but is not identifying her as she said she is seeking legal representation. It’s unclear whether she was charged in connection with the incident. Calls from The Root to North Versailles police and municipal offices were not returned.
KDKA reported on Wednesday that the officer involved met with municipal officials who have not removed him from duty.
One of the North Versailles Township commissioners, George Thompson, said the officer will remain on the job until at least June 16, when the group gathers for its next monthly meeting. And if any disciplinary action will be taken, it probably won’t be that night either since the township solicitor will be out of town, KDKA-TV’s Shelley Bortz reported.
Thompson told Bortz on Wednesday that the officer regrets using the language he was seen using in the video. Thompson called him a good officer, adding that he’s never had any previous issues.
But the North Versailles’ ‘good officers’ have been caught on camera mistreating Black women before. In 2018, a white North Versailles cop, Christopher Kelly, working a security detail at a movie theater was recorded wrestling a Black woman, Melanie V. Carter, to the ground after she questioned an altercation between the theater’s manager and a group of Black teenage girls who were being ejected from the movie theatre. Carter was arrested.
The manager, Jason Bauer, was fired from his job at the theatre; he’s heard calling the girls “animals” on the video, but said later it was a reference to their behavior inside the theater, not to their race.
Charges against Carter were later dropped. She sued Kelly and the movie theater chain Phoenix Theatres Entertainment, alleging civil rights violations, assault and negligent hiring, according to a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette at the time.
It’s unclear where that suit stands, and whether Carter is still with the department.