Suit alleging illegal Pittsburgh police search of Arlington home moved to federal court

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A lawsuit by an Arlington couple who claim their home was improperly searched and damaged by Pittsburgh police was moved to federal court today.

Joseph Milcarek Sr., 71, and Mary Catherine Milcarek, 67, sued city police Officer David Sisak and unnamed other officers last month in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

They claimed in that lawsuit that their rights of privacy, and their right not to face unlawful searches and seizures, was violated in February 2012 when police broke down the back door of their Sur Way home and “unnecessarily damaged a number of items.”

The Milcareks were not home at the time of the search, but the complaint by attorney James K. Paulick claims they suffered psychological and physical harm as a result of the intrusion.

The search, according to the complaint, was conducted because Officer Sisak and others stopped Joseph Milcarek Jr., the couple’s son, while he was driving with a woman who had filed a protection from abuse order against him. Officer Sisak claimed that he saw a shotgun shell in the car, and surmised that was a violation of the PFA, according to the complaint.

The complaint said that the terms of the PFA did not bar Joseph Milcarek Jr. from nonviolent contact with the woman, nor did it preclude him from possessing ammunition. Mr. Paulick argued that there was no probable cause for the search.

The complaint also said that Joseph Milcarek Jr. did not live at the Sur Way address. The woman’s PFA application, though, indicated that he did live at that address.

Attorney Bryan Campbell, who is representing Officer Sisak and often works for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1, filed the notice moving the case to federal court. Neither he, nor city solicitor Dan Regan, could be immediately reached for comment.


Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord.

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