Pittsburgh police are facing a lawsuit for allegedly beating a man who unwittingly interfered with an arrest, KDKA-TV reported.
Daniel Adelman, 47, attempted to break up what appeared to be two men fighting outside of the PPG Paints Arena in September, KDKA reported. The scene unfolded following a Roger Walters concert.
“It looked like two individuals just fighting, so he stepped in to break it up, and then did not realize it was a police officer until it was too late,” Adelman’s attorney, Steven Barth, told the station Wednesday.
As it turned out, a plainclothes officer was arresting someone wanted on a warrant.
Adelman sustained a number of injuries when the officer and other nearby uniformed officers attacked him, according to the report.
A 52-page civil complaint filed by Barth names four Pittsburgh police officers, Chief Scott Schubert, the city of Pittsburgh, and Aramark Sports Services. It cites battery, excessive force, violation of civil rights, and false arrest, among other things, KDKA reported.
The lawsuit also claims that police escalated the situation instead of subduing it.
“With someone like Mr. Adelman, just treat him like he’s a fellow officer, and we probably wouldn’t be here,” Barth told KDKA. “They probably wouldn’t have smashed his head off the ground. They probably would have given him the benefit of the doubt of not knowing that these plainclothes officers were officers, and we wouldn’t be here today.”
Adleman told KDKA in September, “I don’t know how many stitches, but I cannot move my arm. It’s dislocated."
A video allegedly shows “police officers smashing Daniel Adelman’s face into the ground.
What did police say?
The Fraternal Order of Police maintains that Adelman was in the wrong.
“You can’t interfere in a police investigation or police arrest, especially when you have uniformed officers on the scene,” Robert Swartzwelder, the union's president, told KDKA in November.
The district attorney withdrew all charges against Adelman.
“When you see an individual getting their face smashed into the cement by people who are there to protect and serve, it has to give you some kind of pause,” Barth said.
City officials and the police department declined to comment in light of the ongoing litigation, KDKA reported.
The defendants have 20 days to respond to the lawsuit, according to the report.