The Allegheny County District Attorney says a former West Mifflin police detective on trial yesterday planted cocaine on a male suspect, kicked and choked a juvenile in police custody and fabricated information about illegal poker machines in a third case. Then, the prosecution says, he lied about his actions after the fact.
Assistant District Attorney Lawrence Claus told jurors that some witnesses in the case against Officer Noel G. Missig are not "pillars of the community." The nine criminal counts he faces, including perjury, false swearing, official oppression, tampering with public records and simple assault, stem from a joint state-federal investigation into misconduct by former West Mifflin police Chief Frank Diener.
Mr. Diener has already been sentenced in state and federal court on separate charges.
Defense attorney Stephen R. Greenberg said in his opening statement that Mr. Missig, 40, of West Mifflin, is innocent in all three misconduct incidents between 2000 and 2004. He did not kick or choke anyone or lie about it, he said. "He didn't plant drugs" and "he didn't make up information" about the gambling machines.
Mr. Greenberg said the prosecutor's admission that witnesses were not "pillars of the community" was "the understatement of the year." He said Richard Jasek, who claims the officer stuffed cocaine in his sweatshirt pocket, had already pleaded guilty to having the drugs, and he was incarcerated when the district attorney dropped the charges against him.
He said the juvenile witness, Andrew Palmer, who later yesterday testified the former officer kicked him in the ribs while he was handcuffed on the ground and choked and head slammed him at the West Mifflin station, was incorrect. Although the case is unrelated, Mr. Greenberg noted in his opening that Mr. Palmer, who is now an adult, is alleged to have rented the hotel room in Carnegie where convicted murderer Leslie D. Mollett was headed on the night he killed state police Cpl. Joseph R. Pokorny.
The trial resumes Monday before Allegheny County Judge David R. Cashman.
Gabrielle Banks can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1370.