Just over a week since testifying before city council that Pittsburgh police officers should be required to live in the city, Valerie Lauw may be having second thoughts—because she says, one just threatened to shoot her.
“I was sitting on my porch Wednesday (8-7-13) when a bunch of police cars went tearing down Hazlett Street. I saw several White officers chasing this man,” she said. “When they caught him they threw him on the ground and started to kick him and beat, and when I yelled at them to stop, one pointed his 9mm at me and said he would shoot me if I didn’t back off. I was already 20 feet away.”
Lauw said she identified herself as the Northview Heights citizens’ council president, but that didn’t seem to matter.
“The one officer was saying ‘this man should be shot dead, he hit a 3-year-old child trying to get away from us,’” she said. “When I was looking at that gun, I thought my life was over.”
Lauw said Zone 1 Cmdr. Rashall Brackney arrived on the scene shortly after the arrest. Brackney said there was no report of a child being struck.
Brackney said she heard the call of a pursuit that began in Manchester on her radio and drove to Northview Heights.
“When I got there (suspect Victor Pinkston, 33, of Penn Hills) was in custody and a crowd was angry and screaming that there are no Black police,” she said. “Ms. Lauw said we threatened her, pulled guns on her. She told me I had to get some control over these White officers. But she had been drinking.”
Brackney said she wanted to review the video record of the chase and arrest she had just received from Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh cameras before commenting on Lauw’s account of being threatened.
Brackney referred further comment to acting Chief Regina McDonald’s office. According to spokesperson Diane Richard, Pinkston had $17,000 worth of heroin, $1,000 in cash, two cell phones and was driving a car that had been stolen from Budget Rent-a Car.
She also said Pinkston had fallen on his face while being subdued and was taken to Allegheny General Hospital for treatment.
Messages left asking whether the video shows officers threatening and pointing a gun at Lauw, or beating Pinkston were not returned by New Pittsburgh Courier deadline.
Black Political Empowerment Project President Tim Stevens forwarded Lauw’s account to Pittsburgh City Council and to the Citizen Police Review Board. He also called on HACP Executive Director Caster Binion to investigate the incident.
“This is very troubling and is the kind of policing that creates bad police community relations,” he said. “This incident and others similar to it cannot be tolerated”
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