Ross man held for trial in Pittsburgh police South Side Taser incident

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A Ross man charged with defiant trespass after an encounter with a Taser-wielding Pittsburgh police detective during a St. Patrick's Day celebration on the South Side was held for trial Thursday.

Mark Keyser Jr., 27, also was held on charges of disorderly conduct and public drunkenness. His arrest by Detective Frank Rende March 16 at SouthSide Works was captured on video and posted to YouTube.

That video, which shows Mr. Keyser collapsing to the ground after the detective raised a Taser to his neck, prompted Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to call for the detective's firing.

Acting police Chief Regina McDonald has said a test showed the Taser was not activated.

In the video, the detective tells Mr. Keyser in between swear words to leave the area near Claddagh Irish Pub. Detective Rende testified Thursday that he had been asked by the pub manager to remove a drunk patron, who had been standing with Mr. Keyser, from the premises.

Outside, Mr. Keyser stood between the detective and the other man, asking why the man had to leave, Detective Rende testified. Mr. Keyser was within 6 inches of the detective at one point, he testified.

Detective Rende said after he asked Mr. Keyser to leave the area, the man walked away, then stopped and turned around every 10 feet, asking why he had to go away. He did this three or four times, Detective Rende said, all while screaming and using foul language.

"I said, 'Do you want Tased?' He said, 'Go ahead,' " Detective Rende testified.

Detective Rende testified that he put his hand on the man's shoulder before "he flopped to the ground."

Public defender Jessel Costa implored District Judge James A. Motznik to drop the disorderly conduct and defiant trespass charges.

"Judge, all he did was leave," Mr. Costa said.

The man who taped the video and some who have watched it, including Citizen Police Review Board executive director Elizabeth Pittinger, have said they disagreed with police statements that Mr. Keyser did not follow the detective's orders to leave the area.

In an interview after the hearing, Mr. Keyser said he planned to fight the charges through to trial.

"I'm going to take it as far as it will go," he said, adding later, "I'm not guilty of anything. I'm not going to plead to charges that are unfounded."

A formal arraignment is scheduled for May 22.

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 and on Twitter: @borntolede. First Published April 4, 2013 10:00 AM


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