City to review Taser use during protest
Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW | August 31, 2005
By Jeremy Boren
Pittsburgh will scrutinize why city police used Tasers and police dogs to control a crowd of protesters Aug. 20 outside a military recruiting post in Oakland.
Police officers used a Taser to subdue a man and a woman in a crowd of more than three dozen protesters and allowed a second woman to be bitten by a police dog during the anti-war protest and march.
Pittsburgh City Council members plan to hold a televised public meeting with Pittsburgh Police Chief Robert W. McNeilly Jr., an aide to Mayor Tom Murphy and city Solicitor Jacqueline Morrow to discuss possible changes to police crowd-control procedures.
Referring to a unanimous February vote by the council to purchase 20 concealable Tasers for plainclothes police officers, Councilman Sala Udin said the violent conclusion police brought to the Oakland protest was a mistake.
"It was never my intention or the intention of council members who supported it to use Taser guns for crowd control or for someone who was mildly resisting officers' orders or arrest," said Udin, of the Hill District.
Other council members agreed with Udin.
"I don't feel the response was appropriate," said Councilman Doug Shields, of Squirrel Hill, who suggested the council compare Pittsburgh's crowd-control policies with those in other cities. "This city should anticipate a continuance of these types of demonstrations."
McNeilly has said he supports the officers' use of force. Four people were arrested and have been charged with offenses such as disorderly conduct, rioting and failure to disperse for their roles in the fracas.
A date for the council's televised public meeting hasn't been set.