Just because the home team is losing an important playoff game, doesn’t give anyone the right to abuse visiting fans, especially not staffers for the hometown team, and certainly not the police.
Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Pirates organization’s security acted shamefully, assisting a Pittsburgh police officer body slam a Chicago Cubs fan for no reason.
The Pirates employee assaulted an innocent citizen recording the violent assault and battery of his friend in a video you can see below.
This isn’t the first time Pittsburgh police have used force in PNC Park either.
It all started when the man identified only as “Dimitri” got on TV with his sign and elaborate costume, and a Pirates fan responded by hitting him with a tobacco spit cup and “having words.”
A Pirates usher then decided to kick out the fan from the other team for being harassed.
Obviously, Dimitri’s a die-hard Cubs fan to make a road trip for a playoff game with tickets selling at $180 a seat and up on Craigslist, also bearing a sign and costume.
Little did he know Pittsburgh cop would play hardball with him at the MLB Wild Card Playoff game at PNC Park, but they didn’t make an arrest, since Dimitri had done nothing wrong.
“You have to go, you have to go now,” said the Pittsburgh Police officer echoed by Pittsburgh Pirates staffers.
“Can we talk?” replies Dimitri.
Immediately, the officer made physical contact and asked Dimitri to “Put your hands behind your back,” as he started walking the man towards an exit.
It’s difficult to tell exactly what happened next, but the officer appears to place his arm around Dimitri’s neck, prompting him to yell, “Stop it! Seriously.”
The friend recording the incident tried to follow the action when a Pirates staffer smashed the cellphone prompting the photographer to say, “What the fuck,” loudly and the staffer yells to, “put the phone down.”
Moments later, the video cuts to another angle, no doubt from a second citizen who realized that something was wrong as the cop dragged Dimitri to a concessions stand as he protested that he, “did nothing wrong.”
At that point, the officer performs a body slam maneuver, using his own weight for leverage to throw Dimitri over his right shoulder and onto the concrete.
Pirates staffers can be waving at passers by as the camera angle changes, perhaps to the original photographer as the officer cuffs the helpless fan.
The photographer gave a fitting epitaph to the whole incident.
Dimitri had to seek emergency medical attention after the vicious body slam on a concrete floor.
He gave this firsthand account he gave to sportsmockery.com:
“AFTER I WAS NOTIFIED BY TEXT THAT I WAS ON TV, I TRIED HOLDING UP MY SIGN AND WAS HIT WITH A “SPIT” CHEWING TOBACCO CUP BY A PIRATES FAN IN THE LEFT FIELD BLEACHERS. I HAD AN EXCHANGE OF WORDS WITH THE FAN AND THE USHER TOLD ME I WAS KICKED OUT. I LEFT MY SEAT AND WAS EXITING THROUGH THE CONCOURSE WHEN A PITTSBURGH POLICE OFFICER WHO DIDN’T KNOW ANY DETAILS CONFRONTED ME, ONCE I ASKED HIM IF I COULD TALK TO HIM ABOUT THE SITUATION, HE GRABBED ME AND ATTEMPTED TO PUT ME IN A CHOKE HOLD. I ASKED HIM TO STOP, HE SAID “OR WHAT” (YOU CAN CLEARLY HEAR THIS ON THE VIDEO). THEN, THE OTHER SECURITY GUARDS TRIED TO SMACK THE PHONE RECORDING THE INCIDENT OUT OF MY FRIENDS HANDS. I WAS THEN BODY SLAMMED AND HANDCUFFED. NO ARREST WAS MADE, NOR WERE ANY CHARGES FILED. THEY MERELY KICKED ME OUT FOR BEING A FAN AND EXCITED TO BE ON TV AND WATCHING MY TEAM WIN.”
Dimitri stated while he was not arrested, he was forced to make a trip to the emergency room after suffering injuries to his back and wrist. He’s currently in talks with an attorney and is considering pressing charges.
It’s notable that of the $228MM paid to build PNC Park, the Pirates only spent $40MM which means that the park is a public building, not a private venue.
While most sports tickets do have disclaimers about the revocability of the admission which they purchase, this likely means that as a public fora, nobody would have the right to stop a photographer from recording.
Sports are a safe outlet for guys to do all manner of violent things to each other on the playing field, some that are legal – but folks think should be banned – as Mets fans can bemoan in last night’s action on the field.
But even in sports, sometimes acts on the field can result in criminal charges, for example a couple of times per decade for NHL Hockey players or police seeking an arrest like the infamous Malice at the Palace NBA incident, or if the players hurt each other or someone else on the field intentionally.
There’s no question off the field that the rule of law applies, and that police shouldn’t escalate their use of force when there’s no evident threat to themselves or others.
If there’s not even a reason to arrest a sports fan, the obvious question is: why did this Pittsburgh police officer use so much force and cuff this Cubs fan?
It didn’t help the Pirates, they lost 4-0 ending their 2015 season on a sour note, on and off the field.