After seeing a police video that was kept under wraps for months, Black Political Empowerment Project President Tim Stevens has asked Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala to drop assault charges filed against two brothers arrested in Homewood last July.
The video shows police stopping and detaining 20-year-old Will El and his 18-year-old brother as they exited a confectionary in Homewood.
“We then saw what appeared to be Officer (Frank) Welling slamming Will El against the wall. Anyone watching the video can clearly see Officer Welling putting on his black gloves immediately before this action took place. In light of the fact that these men were being compliant, I personally found this quite troubling. Even more troubling was the tasing of 18-year-old Beyshaud El, when he stood up to question why his brother was being slammed against the wall. Bayshaud was tased until he was unconscious.”
After being beaten and Tasered, the brothers were then charged with felony assault. Their trial, which was supposed to begin Feb. 3, was postponed after Lt. Rayne Kacsuta, who initiated the stop, became ill.
“No drugs or weapons were found on these men. Now they currently face felony charges. We want those charges dropped,” Stevens said. “If there are any charges, according to the police video, maybe those charges should be against Officer Welling for slamming Will El for what appears to be for no reason.”
Brandi Fisher, founder of the Alliance for Police Accountability, arranged for the public viewing of the video, which was attended by around 50 people including the El brothers, Jordon Miles, Leon Ford, and Dennis Henderson–all of whom have been either wrongly detained, beaten or shot by police during recent arrests.
“These young men should not have been stopped in the first place, and after they emptied their pockets, and it was determined they had no weapons or drugs, they should have been let go,” said Fisher. “But that wasn’t enough for Lt. Kacsuta. These men were unlawfully detained and unlawfully charged. This is a pattern in the Zone 5 station and with the department in general.”
Fisher said she too is writing a formal request for Zappala to drop the charges.
“These boys are so young. People are out here shooting each other and you want to give these two 20 years for walking to the grocery store,” she said. “We’re aware that there’s a criminal element in Homewood that needs to be removed. We’re also aware that there’s a criminal element in the police force that needs to be removed. We’d like to work with the DA on both.”
A spokesperson for Zappala confirmed that Stevens’ letter had arrived but could not comment beyond that. No new trial date has yet been set.
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