Settlement reached in off-duty officer case

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The city of Pittsburgh will pay the bulk of a $44,500 settlement of a federal lawsuit driven by a 2008 case of mistaken identity, and a police officer's insurer will pay a fraction, the plaintiff's attorney said Tuesday.

Pittsburgh police Officer Paul G. Abel Jr.'s homeowners insurer will cover $4,500 of the settlement, said James E. DePasquale, attorney for Kaleb Miller, 23, who sued the city and officer last year.

Mr. Miller had said in his U.S. District Court complaint that an off-duty Mr. Abel grabbed him by the shirt, ordered him to the ground, put a pistol to his head, struck him with the gun, and accidentally shot him in the hand. Mr. Abel, who had been drinking, apparently mistook Mr. Miller for someone who hit him earlier.

The lawsuit followed a decision by Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey Manning that Mr. Abel had not committed a crime. Fired by the city, he was reinstated by a labor arbitrator.

"What Abel did was clearly wrong," said Mr. DePasquale. "I believe that he clearly acted as a police officer." He said the settlement amount was influenced by the modest injuries to Mr. Miller, a South Side hospitality worker.

Mr. Abel has faced three complaints before the city's Citizen Police Review Board.

Neither city attorneys nor Mr. Abel's lawyer could be reached for comment. The settlement must be approved by City Council.


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