Teacher files federal lawsuit against Pittsburgh police officer after Homewood arrest


Good old Pittsburgh cops at it again, they never learn their lesson. :mad:

"The June arrest of a teacher, which worsened police-community relations in Homewood, is now the subject of a civil rights lawsuit that its authors claim is as much about prompting change as procuring a check. Dennis Henderson, the 38-year-old teacher from North Side whose run-in with Pittsburgh police Officer Jonathan Gromek is the subject of the lawsuit, said Tuesday that his arrest was tough to explain to his 9-year-old daughter as well as his students.

"I've worked hard to stay out of the system," Mr. Henderson said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. "There just shouldn't be a reason my daughter should have to answer to her peers on why her dad was on TV in handcuffs." He said he also had to explain it to his students, some of whom have heard him lecture them on how to behave in an encounter with police. He recounted that a student said to him, "You did everything you tell us to do, and you got slammed..."

...The Manchester Academy Charter School teacher said that he left a meeting at the Community Empowerment Association, which dealt with efforts to improve relations with police, to give his business card to journalist Rossano Stewart outside. He said that Officer Gromek sped by, veering so close that the two "had to press ourselves against the car to avoid being struck by the vehicle." Mr. Henderson said he exclaimed "Wow!" and the officer turned the car around and "posed the question if I had a problem with his driving..."

...Mr. Henderson said he asked Officer Gromek for his name and badge number. He also said that he would record the encounter on his phone. "I refused to give him my phone, and at that point he said, 'Put your hands behind your back,' " said Mr. Henderson.

Mr. Henderson said he was handcuffed and told "if I don't get down, he's going to put me down," after which the officer swept him to the ground...

...Mr. Henderson was jailed for around 12 hours and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstruction of highways -- all of which were withdrawn by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. A spokesman for Mr. Zappala said Tuesday that the office has no plans to re-file the charges. Mr. Henderson said he believed the white officer sought to intimidate him because he is black.

"If it wasn't racial, I don't know what it was then," Mr. Henderson said. "I don't know if that's the normal practice in Squirrel Hill or anywhere else."

"Simply being a black man in a black neighborhood doesn't give police probable cause to stop you, but unfortunately too many of our officers think it does," said ACLU attorney Sara Rose.