Bus-station smoker tussles with police, jailed

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An Armenian national who apparently didn't think much of anti-smoking laws blew cigarette smoke at a Pittsburgh police officer and ended up on the receiving end of a stun gun, arrested and jailed after a scuffle at the Greyhound bus terminal over the weekend.

Officer Walter Carlson said Suren Chukhadzhyan, 50, who stands about 6 feet 5 inches and weighs about 250 pounds, ignored his commands to stop smoking, leading to a fight that knocked over seats and sent other travelers scrambling.

An employee complained that a man was standing and smoking on a wooden ramp at the Second Avenue terminal, which is designated as a no-smoking area and marked with signs that say so.

Officer Carlson responded and told Mr. Chukhadzhyan to move to a designated smoking area, according to a report.

"The actor ignored me and made a cocky smirk to me and was very arrogant," the officer said. "[He] turned away from me and continued to smoke."

When the officer ordered the man to turn around, he did, but blew smoke in the direction of the officer.

Officer Carlson then grabbed the man's arm and said he would be cited, but he said Mr. Chukhadzhyan flicked his cigarette to the ground and walked away.

Inside the terminal, the officer said, Mr. Chukhadzhyan sat down but "became agitated and clenched his fists and began to speak to himself in what appeared to be Russian."

Officer Carlson again attempted to issue the citation, but said Mr. Chukhadzhyan stood up suddenly and approached him aggressively. The officer said he pulled out his Taser and warned, "This doesn't have to go this way."

But he said Mr. Chukhadzhyan said "arrest me" and shoved him. The officer tried to stun him with the Taser, but the prongs didn't penetrate the man's thick coat.

Mr. Chukhadzhyan charged.

A nearby off-duty police officer for the Duquesne School District, Chad Stevens, saw what was happening, pulled his badge, identified himself as a police officer and joined the fray. The two officers fought with Mr. Chukhadzhyan, eventually pinning his arms and managing to cuff him after forcing him against a vending machine.

"He was real big," said Officer Stevens, who had been on his way with his wife to Flint, Mich., to visit a sick relative. "When I tried to put the cuffs on him the first time, I couldn't get them around his wrist. Both of us had an arm and we tired him out a little, but when he wanted to move us, he did."

Even after the cuffs were in place, Officer Carlson said, he refused to get on the floor, so they tripped him to get him down.

Mr. Chukhadzhyan, who lives in Glendale, Calif., was charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and aggravated assault on Officer Carlson.

He was taken to the Allegheny County Jail. Police also contacted the Armenian Consulate in Washington, D.C., and notified the Joint Terrorism Task Force.


Torsten Ove can be reached at tove@post-gazette.com or 412-231-0132.


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