Inmate sues Pittsburgh, police for excessive force during arrest

Following a car chase, Pittsburgh police pistol-whipped, punched and kicked Paul Anthony Parrish, 38, the former Carrick man alleged in a lawsuit filed today against the city and six officers.

Parrish, now an inmate at the State Correctional Institution Pittsburgh, ran a red light on July 17, 2012, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court by his attorney, Todd Hollis.

Police pursued him and stopped him "by crashing into the rear bumper" of his car, according to the complaint. Parrish then put "both his hands outside the driver side door," conceding the arrest, his attorney wrote.

Police video shows officer striking man with gun

Attorney Todd Hollis says a video of the police chase of his client, Paul Anthony Parrish, reflects an excessive use of force -- a claim denied by police. (Video by Andrew Rush; 6/13/2014)

Officer Robert L. Ross then struck Parrish repeatedly with his pistol, and pulled him out of the driver's side window, according to the complaint. Other officers then threw "a barrage of punches and knee strikes to and about the face and body," and Officer Ross kicked Parrish in the head, according to the complaint.

Officer Ross, who was suspended for three days as a result of the incident, defended his conduct in a June 13 story in the Post-Gazette.

Parrish “was positioned in such a way as to come out through the window” at Officer Ross, Bryan Campbell, an attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, said today. “When the officer got up there, the individual … wasn’t seated in the seat like you would be normally.”

Officer Ross, according to Mr. Campbell, “felt the force used [was appropriate], considering that he was facing a threat that this person was going to come out and grab him and grab his firearm or something.”

Police reported that they found two shell casings and 17 bundles of marijuana in Parrish’s car and charged him with eight criminal counts. In a negotiated guilty plea, Parrish admitted to fleeing and eluding, and all other charges were withdrawn.

According to the complaint by Mr. Hollis, the officers "corrupted the judicial process" by accusing Parrish of crimes that he did not commit. It accused the officers of excessive force, assault and malicious prosecution of Parrish. It accused the city of failing to train and supervise officers, and demanded compensatory damages for physical and emotional injuries.

Parrish has a history of incarceration. In 1996, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, and was sentenced to five to 10 years in prison.

Rich Lord: or 412-263-1542. Twitter: @richelord. First Published June 26, 2014 12:00 AM

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