Three officers city promoted had domestic run-ins

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Three of the four Pittsburgh police officers promoted Monday have had run-ins with law enforcement over domestic issues.

Cmdr. George T. Trosky's travails over the years have been well-documented. The homicide detective who was bumped up to commander was arrested in 1997 for breaking his then-wife Cheryl's nose, but a simple assault charge was later dropped after she did not appear in court.

Lt. Charles Rodriguez, who was promoted from sergeant, faces a hearing next month before Crafton District Judge Dennis R. Joyce on charges he assaulted his daughter.

And police were called to the home of Sgt. Eugene F. Hlavac, formerly an officer, for an incident described by Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson as a "nonviolent, oral domestic."

Chief Donaldson said there is no pattern of misconduct at work regarding the three men.

"I don't think it cast a pall over the promotions," Chief Donaldson said yesterday. "The only commonality with these three is the fact that they're just recently promoted. Would the community ask that they not be promoted?"

Asked what message it sends to the public to promote officers who have had problems with the law, Chief Donaldson said: "It doesn't have to tell the public anything. You know what the problem is with police officers? What we make of them. They're human beings, and just like other human beings, they have problems. It doesn't mean they're not good police officers."

Lt. Rodriguez is accused of assaulting his teenage daughter at her Ingram home. Chief Donaldson said the then-sergeant told him and Chief Nathan Harper about the situation the day after it happened.

"Rodriguez is an outstanding police officer who had a very good 15-year record on the job, and it just so happens that right before he was about to be promoted there was an off-duty incident with his daughter," Chief Donaldson said.

According to a criminal complaint, Lt. Rodriguez went to his daughter's house on April 29 to discipline her because she had been skipping school and sneaking out at night.

The girl called Ingram police, claiming that Lt. Rodriguez slapped her in the face a number of times and punched her in the stomach.

Police officers at the house noticed "redness and minor swelling" to the girl's lip and left cheek. Caseworkers from the Office of Children, Youth and Families were called to the house to evaluate the girl's condition. Police advised the girl's mother to seek medical attention for her because the girl was complaining of stomach pain.

Lt. Rodriguez told officers he went to the house to confront his daughter about her "increasing defiance," and he admitted that when she became disrespectful toward him, he slapped her.

Chief Donaldson said CYF investigated the girl's complaint and the office made a report to Ingram police. Police subsequently filed a simple assault complaint against Lt. Rodriguez.

Lt. Rodriguez, 44, a 14-year veteran, yesterday declined to discuss the issue, saying he deferred to Chief Donaldson.

"I just want to kind of keep this to myself. It's a family issue that's blown out of proportion," Lt. Rodriguez said.

Chief Donaldson declined to provide information about Sgt. Hlavac's run-in with his fellow officers, but said, "I'm aware of a nonviolent, oral domestic at his home."

Chief Donaldson also confirmed that Sgt. Hlavac, a 15-year veteran, was disciplined last year for insubordinate behavior, but he would not provide details.

Officers at the station in East Liberty, where Hlavac previously was assigned, have responded twice to his East Liberty home -- in January and March. The March incident, the oral domestic, occurred while Sgt. Hlavac was on duty and eventually led to his transfer to the Hill District station.

After the incident in January, both Sgt. Hlavac and his domestic partner were advised to get protection-from-abuse orders.

"I have no further comment on that. It's a private issue. My family's aware of what happened," Sgt. Hlavac, 40, said yesterday. "If that's all the press has to do is look into my private life then it must be a slow news day."


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


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