Police use of Taser 'justified' in arrests of Homewood brothers, supervisors say

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After watching video from the scene, Pittsburgh police supervisors said they think an officer was justified in using a Taser on a man during an arrest in Homewood, but the man's family disagrees.

The arrest of Beyshaud El, 18, and his brother Will El, 21, both of Homewood, angered his mother and some of those who attended a Tuesday night meeting aimed at improving the relationship between residents and law enforcement.

Police have said that both Beyshaud and Will El balled their fists and that Beyshaud attempted to hit an officer in the back of the head.

Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon: "The video evidence indicates that the force utilized by the arresting officers appears to be only that which was necessary to subdue and control these individuals, and that no unreasonable or excessive force was applied.

"The officers' use of force was triggered by the aggressive actions of the actors, one who disregarded the instructions to remain seated, for officer and public safety reasons, and the other who subsequently physically attacked an officer who attempted to return his brother to a seated position."

Zone 5 Officer Ryan Warnock wrote in a criminal complaint that he and Officer Frank Welling drove to the intersection of North Homewood Avenue and Fletcher Way about 1:45 p.m. Tuesday to assist Lt. Reyne Kacsuta, who was alone with the brothers.

Cmdr. Timothy O'Connor said Lt. Kacsuta stopped the men because she suspected that they might have purchased synthetic marijuana from a local store. She also thought one of the men looked as if he might have been too young to buy tobacco, the commander said.

Officer Warnock wrote in the complaint that Will El "balled his hand into a fist and made a punching motion" toward Officer Welling, who forced Will El against a wall to stop Mr. El from punching him.

Beyshaud El "stood up in an aggressive manner," so Officer Warnock pulled out his Taser and told him to sit down, according to the complaint.

Officer Warnock wrote that Beyshaud El then "balled his fist and attempted to punch [Officer Welling] in the back of the head," so Officer Warnock "shot him with my Taser."

The men's mother, Medina El, 37, of Homewood, said, "We believe the use of a Taser could not be justified."

Beyshaud and Will El were charged with aggravated assault and face a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published July 3, 2013 7:30 PM


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