Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plaintiff Says He Felt Afraid to Sue Officer Who Hurt Him

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Plaintiff Says He Felt Afraid to Sue Officer Who Hurt Him

Article excerpt

A federal judge Wednesday released former Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper and current Assistant Chief George Trosky from a lawsuit alleging indifference to discipline in the bureau, but said a jury must decide whether the city failed to supervise former Detective Bradley Walker prior to a road rage incident.

Closing arguments in the case are expected this morning. Then the eight-member jury will be asked to reach unanimity on whether Mr. Walker was acting as an officer when he choked Jarret Fate on May 1, 2010, whether he used excessive force and whether the city's disciplinary practices led to the incident.

Mr. Fate, 32, of Squirrel Hill opted not to sue Mr. Walker, and testified that was because he feared the officer would have a vendetta against him.

His attorney has argued that the city, Mr. Harper and Chief Trosky were dismissive of the 32 citizen complaints lodged against Mr. Walker during his 17-year career, and that emboldened the detective to choke and threaten people, including Mr. Fate.

Judge Schwab said that investigations of complaints by the city's Office of Municipal Investigations and the city's contract with the police union left Mr. Harper and Chief Trosky "in a difficult place" in regard to disciplining Mr. Walker.

"I don't believe that anyone, or a reasonable jury, could find that ... former Cmdr. Trosky and former chief of police Harper were deliberately indifferent, nor quite frankly that anything they did or did not do was the proximate cause of harm to the plaintiff," the judge said.

Prior to that decision, Mr. Fate recounted the incident that led to Mr. Walker's firing and conviction on three misdemeanors.

Mr. Fate's car struck the left rear end of then-Detective Walker's car as both left the Parkway toward Oakland. Mr. Fate began to pull over, but traffic stopped him.

"I was sitting in my vehicle, and the next thing I knew, I was being choked," Mr. Fate told an eight-person jury. "The individual started yelling profanity at me and tightening his grip around my neck, and saying something to the effect of, 'You messed with the wrong person. …

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