Councilman cited for harassment

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City Councilman Jeffrey Koch was cited by a Pittsburgh police officer for harassment and disorderly conduct during a girls softball game Sunday night in Brookline.

Mr. Koch will receive the citations in the mail from narcotics Detective Brian Nicholas.

The citations concern allegations that Mr. Koch used his chest to bump Detective Nicholas' brother, Joseph Nicholas, Brookline's softball coach, as he tried to break up a fight at the game, which took place at the Brookline Memorial Recreation Center in the 1400 block of Brookline Boulevard.

Joseph Nicholas, who is also a Pittsburgh police officer and is assigned to the Hill District station, was off-duty at the time.

In a statement released late yesterday, Mr. Koch said, "Any citation given would be unwarranted. I did absolutely nothing wrong. It is my intention to zealously challenge any citations or allegations of wrongdoing."

Mr. Koch, 44, of Arlington, said he had not yet received the citations.

Asked whether he had asked the police to just let the matter drop, he said, "Well, that was my initial thought, but now I'm not sure it's going to happen."

Joseph Nicholas said his Brookline players had endured razzing and threats throughout their game against a team from the South Side on Sunday when things took a bad turn around the seventh inning.

Mr. Nicholas said Bill Gallagher, the football coach at Perry Traditional Academy, got into an argument with South Side fans while trying to defend his daughter, one of the Brookline players.

Mr. Nicholas said he told the South Side fans he was a police officer and asked them to settle down. He said he was separating Mr. Gallagher and South Side's coach, Gary Bevan, when Mr. Bevan's daughter, Heather, attacked him.

As things deteriorated, Mr. Nicholas said he asked his wife to call 911. He also contacted his brother, who was nearby and on his way to a private security job while in uniform, a common practice for police officers.

When Detective Nicholas arrived, he was asked by his brother to detain Ms. Bevan, 22, of Arlington.

"Her dad reaches out for my brother," said Mr. Nicholas. "I grab her dad and put him into the fence. I said, 'Stand right there.' All of a sudden I heard, 'Hey!' I look to my right and this big guy comes down and bangs me with his chest. I said, 'Back off, I'm a police officer.' He goes, 'What does that mean to me? What do I care if you're a policeman?'

"That," Mr. Nicholas said. "was the councilman."

Detective Nicholas stepped between his brother and Mr. Koch and gave the councilman a shove, Mr. Nicholas said. The councilman tried to grab a garbage can and ended up falling over, Mr. Nicholas said.

Pittsburgh police from the South Side station responded to the fight around 10 p.m. and charged Ms. Bevan with assault. Ms. Bevan was released on her own recognizance.

A police affidavit supporting the arrest said Ms. Bevan came out on the field and refused to comply with several warnings to leave. It said she then punched Joseph Nicholas three or four times after he identified himself as a police officer.

"I'm really not allowed to say anything right now," Ms. Bevan said yesterday. She said she had obtained a lawyer, whose name she would not reveal.

In his statement, Mr. Koch described the incident as a "minor altercation that did not involve me. The only thing that I can say about this is that at no time did I act inappropriately, and at no time did I violate any law."

One of Mr. Koch's foes in the special election, Jason Phillips, of the South Side Flats, criticized Mr. Koch during the public comment period at council's meeting yesterday.

"I don't think a children's sporting event is the place to flex your muscle," Mr. Phillips said. "I believe you are guilty of at least bad judgment. ... When you do things like that, you put others at risk. You're supposed to be a pillar of our community. Please represent us. Don't embarrass us."


Jonathan D. Silver can be reached at jsilver@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1962. Rich Lord can be reached at rlord@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1542.


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