Former Pitt football player in confrontation with police

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A former redshirted freshman on the University of Pittsburgh football team on Saturday was arrested when police said he was highly intoxicated in Oakland, blocked them from driving down Atwood Sreet, and resisted arrest and fought with them so much that he had to be Tasered four times.

The suspect, Fernando M. Diaz, 20, of Bronx, N.Y., was taken into custody after a cruiser on routine patrol at 1:56 a.m. had to stop on Atwood because Mr. Diaz was standing in the middle of street yelling at someone in an adjacent parking lot. He refused to move, police said. When he saw the police car, officers said, he responded "What the [expletive] are you going to do, hit me?"

Officers got out of their car but he became belligerent and yelled at them, police said, and a crowd gathered. A man who said he was on the team with Mr. Diaz told him to "shut his mouth" and accept the citation for being publicly drunk, cautioning him that former Pitt Head Coach Dave Wannstedt was not there any more and new coach Todd Graham would make an example of him.

When introduced Jan. 12, Mr. Graham talked about molding his players into men of integrity, high character and compassion. Under Mr. Wannstedt, a number of Pitt players had run-ins with the law, and a Sports Illustrated investigation reported today that Pitt had more players in trouble with the law than any other team that began last season in the Top 25.

Police said Mr. Diaz refused to calm down, twice tried to walk away, and once the citation was written told police he wouldn't sign it, wouldn't accept it and wouldn't go to court. He began to walk away again and ignored orders to stop. Officers attempted to grab his arms but he pulled way in an aggressive manner and officers were only able to get one handcuff on him, police reported. He then began swinging his arms, one with the handcuffs attached, with closed fists at officers, police said. They contained him only after shooting him four times with a Taser.

Mr. Diaz was released from custody after a doctor made sure he had not been medically affected by the Tasers. He was released and will be charged by summons with public drunkenness, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, underage drinking and obstruction a highway.

Pitt had listed Mr. Diaz as being 6 feet 2, 280 pounds. He was an offensive lineman.

Mr. Diaz was with the team for training camp but left school in August 2010. He had hopes of participating in spring practice, but Pitt sports information director E.J. Borghetti said today that, "in light of recent events," he will not be rejoining the team.


Michael A. Fuoco: mfuoco@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1968.


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