DA to drop charges for 4 Pitt students; reviewing others

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Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. today said his office would drop charges against at least four University of Pittsburgh students arrested in Oakland protests last week, and his investigators are reviewing the cases of all 190 people arrested during the G-20 summit.

At the same time, the district attorney's office may press charges against dozens of protesters who came from out of town and planned to commit crimes. Many were not arrested but have been captured on video footage, Mr. Zappala said.

"There is substantial evidence that some came to Pittsburgh with the specific intent of causing damage," he said.

Some evidence has been obtained by search warrants that are still under seal, and investigators are reviewing video footage from many of the 300 security cameras on the University of Pittsburgh campus.

Of the 190 people arrested, 51 are Pitt students, Mr. Zappala said.

His office is working university police Chief Tim Delaney to identify other students who may have been taken into custody as they tried to leave the scene.

Some students, Mr. Zappala said, were used as "pawns" by individuals who wanted to cause damage in the city.

Pittsburgh police Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson is looking at the circumstances of the arrest of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Sadie Gurman, one of at least several journalists arrested.

Mr. Zappala said reporters shouldn't have been arrested while doing their jobs, but he also said everyone had an obligation to comply when police issued dispersal orders during the summit.

Fifty preliminary hearings related to G-20 arrests are scheduled for tomorrow at the Municipal Courts Building, and many likely will be postponed as the district attorney's office reviews more evidence.

Mr. Zappala encouraged those arrested to bring video footage of their own or other evidence to the hearings.

Fourteen Greenpeace activists who rappelled from the West End Bridge, and attempted to jump from the Fort Pitt bridge, likely will receive community service in a deal worked out with the group, Mr. Zappala said.

Mr. Zappala will also be reviewing the force used by police in Oakland, Lawrenceville and elsewhere.

Overall, he said, "the police showed tremendous restraint."

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Jerome L. Sherman can be reached at 412-263-1183 or jsherman@post-gazette.com


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