CUFFED—Pittsburgh school teacher Dennis Henderson, yellow shirt, and New Pittsburgh Courier photographer Rossano Stewart, front, sit in handcuffs after being harassed by a Pittsburgh police officer for, what many are saying, is “Talking While Black.” (Photo by Elwin Green)

Saying his actions rose to the level of “an egregious act of misconduct,” Pittsburgh’s Citizen Police Review Board has recommended officer Jonathan Gromek be terminated from the Bureau of Police.

The recommendation follows the board’s investigation of Gromek’s conduct during the arrest of Manchester Academy Charter School teacher Dennis Henderson outside a June 26 Community Empowerment Association meeting in Homewood.

The Office of Municipal Investigation found Gromek violated procedures during the incident and acting Chief Regina McDonald decided he should receive a written reprimand. The Fraternal Order of Police filed a grievance claiming the punishment was “too harsh.”

But The CPRB’s finding, presented during its March 25 meeting, also suggested Gromek falsified his affidavit of probable cause for Henderson’s arrest, and asks that an outside agency to look at “possible criminal culpability” with respect to that report and others Gromek has filed.

“With any officer, if there’s a suspicion about the veracity of his sworn statements, there’s a trust problem,” said CPRB Executive Director Elizabeth Pittinger. “I mean, this guy (Henderson) went to jail. So, if it happened to one, to whom else could it have happened”

As the Courier originally reported June 30, Henderson and Courier photographer Rossano Paul Stewart were exchanging business cards while standing next to Henderson’s car on Kelly Street when Gromek sped by, nearly striking them. Henderson yelled after him, and when he reached the next corner, Gromek made a U-turn, came back and confronted him.

Henderson asked for his badge number and Gromek responded by handcuffing both him and Stewart. Stewart was later released, but Henderson was charged with disorderly conduct and taken to jail. The district attorney dropped the charges. On November 19, Henderson filed a Civil Rights lawsuit against Gromek in federal court.

Pittinger has already forwarded the board’s finding to Mayor Bill Peduto and acting police Chief Regina McDonald. They have 30 days to respond by accepting the recommendations, accepting them with modifications, or rejecting them entirely.


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