Pittsburgh police investigate ride given to grand jury witness

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Pittsburgh police are investigating whether an officer violated policy when he flipped on his lights and sirens and then offered a ride to a former mayoral bodyguard Tuesday after his testimony before a federal grand jury.

Zone 2 Officer Robert Swartzwelder, a 20-year veteran of the force, said he was leaving a call when he drove to the intersection of Seventh and Grant streets and by chance saw Fred Crawford Jr. surrounded by reporters about 3:15 p.m.

He turned on his lights and sirens, crossed through the intersection and said "Hey Freddie, you want a ride?"

Mr. Crawford got into the front passenger seat and Officer Swartzwelder said he drove him about three blocks away, to the office of his attorney Robert Stewart.

"Obviously he was in distress and wanted a ride, so he received it," Officer Swartzwelder said.

He said the ride was not pre-planned and that he did not request permission to give it, but that he did notify dispatch that someone else was in the car with him.

Acting police Chief Regina McDonald confirmed the investigation through spokeswoman Diane Richard but did not go into further detail. Public Safety director Michael Huss referred questions to the chief.

Officer Swartzwelder said Wednesday afternoon that he had not yet been contacted by anyone in the police administration about the ride.

Mr. Crawford testified with limited immunity on Tuesday before a federal grand jury investigating a range of city affairs. His attorney, Mr. Stewart, briefly addressed the media outside the federal courthouse after his testimony, which Mr. Stewart said focused on the mayor and on abuse of bodyguard overtime.

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published June 19, 2013 11:15 PM


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