Security guard arrested for concocting story to arrest mall customer

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Security guard Gregory Lattera intially told police he arrested customer John Kaminski in the parking lot of the Ross Toys R' Us last month because Mr. Kaminski had run him down with his Jeep.

He has since admitted he was just "tired, cold and sore" when he decided to concoct the story and target Mr. Kaminski, who was roughed up by Mr. Laterra and then Tased by a Ross police officer in front of his wife and child before being taken into police custody.

Mr. Laterra, of Pittsburgh's Strip District, turned himself in to police Friday after learning of the warrant out for his arrest for the Nov. 25 incident. He is charged with making false reports to law enforcement, impersonating a public servant, unlawful restraint, harassment, false impisonment and simple assault.

In a criminal complaint, police outlined the bizarre chain of events that left Mr. Kaminski, who had done nothing wrong, roughed up and on the asphalt in the parking lot of Ross Park Mall.

At around 2.45 p.m., Mr. Kaminski was driving his red Jeep SUV through the intersection of Old McKnight Road and Cheryl Drive, where Mr. Laterra was directing traffic, when Mr. Laterra smacked the back window of the car. At that point, Mr. Laterra reported to police that he had been run down by Mr. Kaminski and that he was going to locate him in the parking lot.

He stormed through the lot, found Mr. Kaminski and told him he was under arrest. When Mr. Kaminski's wife Kellie asked what was going on, Mr. Lattera responded that her husband had just assaulted a police officer. He then put Mr. Kaminski in a headlock, slammed him against his car and demanded that he lie down on the ground. Mr. Kaminski yelled that he couldn't because he was pinned against the car, witnesses told police. He then threw Mr. Kaminski to the ground, holding him down with his knee, while a Ross police officer who had arrived as back up Tased Mr. Kaminski. He was handcuffed and taken to the Ross police station.

Mr. Lattera's version of events unraveled after he gave his statement to police, because the Kaminskis and multiple witnesses contradicted his story that he had been hit by their Jeep. He conceded, admitting he fabricated the story because he was exhausted and upset from directing traffic for nearly six hours.

He was arraigned Friday night and released on an unsecured bond of $20,000. He is scheduled to go before Magistrate Richard Opiela on December 15 at 8 a.m. for a preliminary hearing.


Moriah Balingit: 412-263-2533 or mbalingit@post-gazette.com .


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