After receiving letters from the leaders of the Black Political Empowerment Project and the Alliance for Police Accountability, and reviewing arrest video, Allegheny County District Attorney Steven A. Zappala has told the attorneys representing Will and Beyshaud El that some changes will be made.
Attorney Celeste Whiteford, who represents Beyshaud El, said she received a letter from Zappala over the weekend, and though it is not specific, it indicates some charges will at least be reduced.
“He said he had reviewed the video evidence and is adjusting the charges,” said Whiteford. “A lot of people are looking at this because we only received a second video just before our original Feb. 10 trial date. Lt. Kascuta suddenly said, ‘oh I have this other tape you haven’t seen’ right before she said she could not make the Feb. 10 trial date. “
As first reported in the Courier last week, B-PEP President Tim Stevens called on Zappala to drop the charges after attending a public viewing of a police arrest footage organized by APA President Brandi Fisher.
The video appears to show Pittsburgh police officers slamming 20-year-old Will El against a wall and Tasering his 18-year-old brother, Beyshaud El, after they had already been stopped, searched and detained. Both were then charged with aggravated assault. Neither brother has a police record and no weapons or drugs were found during the stop.
Mike Manko, spokesman for the district attorney said he was in Philadelphia when Zappala sent the letter, but said the non-jury trial before Common Pleas Judge Kevin Sasinoski is scheduled to begin March 5.
While all this was taking place, Medina El, an Allegheny County caseworker and mother of Will El and Beyshaud El, was herself arrested and has remained in the Allegheny County Jail on a $100,000 bond. Police said an officer responding to the sound of Gunfire stopped her and 23-year-old passenger Timothy Bazemore driving along Kelly Street in Homewood with the lights off.
Medina El’s car was riddled with bullet holes and inside police found a gun and traced amounts of marijuana. Bazemore, who they described as a known gang-banger was wearing police-type body armor. He was charged with illegally possessing the armor and three other gun violations, but unlike Medina El, who has no record, his bail was only $50,000.
This is clearly retaliatory,” said Whiteford. “He worked for her cleaning company. She was dropping him off when someone started shooting at him. She’s a victim, but she’s been in jail for a week on a nothing charge—for being shot at.”
Whiteford said the gun is Medina El’s and is registered, but added she may owe a fine on the renewal. Medina El’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 20 in city court. Her attorney Sumner L. Parker could not be reached for additional comment by Courier deadline.
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