Anthony Kenney, who was awarded $105,000 in damages when a federal jury ruled that two city police officers used excessive force on him during his arrest in 2010, spoke to the media for the first time since Wednesday‘s verdict.
“I don’t normally cry,” said Mr. Kenney, 40, of Perry North, who was in tears after the verdict came down. He described his emotions as “excited” and “very pleased.”
The verdict came roughly three and a half years after the December 1, 2010, incident on the North Side, after which Mr. Kenney was convicted of fleeing and eluding. “I felt like it was over after that,” he said, referring to the criminal trial, but he went on to note how meeting with attorney Margaret Schuetz Coleman rekindled his hope of having “a chance to be heard.”
On the verdict, Mrs. Coleman said jurors “sent a very clear message” to the city with the amount of punitive damages awarded, and described the jury as respectful of the police but “outraged” at the conduct that took place.
Mrs. Coleman added that despite the typically difficult nature of cases like Mr. Kenney’s, she “always felt that the evidence was overwhelming.”
The civil trial took two and a half days to complete, and the verdict came against Officers Matthew Turko and Robert Smith. The jury determined that Officer Turko used excessive force in pistol-whipping and beating Mr. Kenney, and Officer Smith failed to intervene, after an attempted traffic stop during which Mr. Kenney’s brother fled from the car. Officer Turko is currently still with the city police force, while Officer Smith now works in Whitehall.
Mr. Kenney said that if he could speak to the jurors, he would thank them for hearing him out. “I‘ll never forget them for the rest of my life,” he said.
As for what this verdict means for police misconduct, Mr. Kenney said that the police “now know there are citizens in Pittsburgh that just won’t tolerate it, the jurors let that be known.”
Albert Anderson: 412-263-1454 or firstname.lastname@example.org