City police review incident involving off-duty officer

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The acting Pittsburgh police chief said Monday that she is reviewing a weekend incident in which an off-duty officer reportedly aimed a gun at a group of men that included an off-duty state trooper.

The incident began about 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning when Pittsburgh police were called to Howe and Bellefonte streets in Shadyside for a report that an officer might have been involved in an assault.

When they arrived, Officer David Blatt, 36, told his colleagues at the city's Zone 4 station that he was driving down Bellefonte toward Howe when he spotted someone "air kicking at his car" and got out to confront that man and fives others, according to a police report.

Officer Blatt argued with the man he thought had been kicking at his car and told police that man pushed him in the face with his hand. Officer Blatt said he told the group he was a police officer and then tried to detain the man with whom he'd been arguing but let go of the man's arm to call 911 on his cell phone.

The group asked to see his badge, so he grabbed it from his car and showed it to them, according to the report. Officer Blatt said some in the group held back his arms and yelled for the man with whom he'd been arguing to run. Officer Blatt told police he broke free from the people who were holding him and chased the suspect.

Officer Blatt told police he dropped his wallet badge holder, police badge, Municipal Police Officers' Education & Training Commission ID and Pittsburgh police ID while he was running and that when he returned to his car, which he had left running, his keys were missing.

According to the report, Officer Blatt and the on-duty officers who responded to his call split up to search the area for his belongings.

When the off-duty officers heard shouting, they spotted Officer Blatt standing with three men, one of whom he was pointing a gun at, according to the report. One of the men, Chris Campbell, no further information listed, identified himself as an off-duty state trooper of the Washington barracks and produced ID.

Officer Blatt told police that he was looking for his belongings when he encountered the group of men and the off-duty trooper walked up to him and "got in his face," according to the police report. Officer Blatt told police he identified himself as an officer, began to argue with Trooper Campbell and one of the trooper's friends pushed him, prompting Officer Blatt to pull his weapon.

Trooper Campbell told police he and his friends were walking when Officer Blatt, who never identified himself as an officer, confronted them and his friend stepped in between them because he thought Officer Blatt was going to hit the trooper. That's when Officer Blatt pulled his gun, the trooper told police.

Pittsburgh police Chief Regina McDonald said Officer Blatt, who joined the force in September 2009 and did not respond to a request for comment, remains on normal duty during the review.

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Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or on Twitter @LizNavratil.


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