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Saturday, October 27, 2007

[PA] Police call Pittsburgh cop-on-cop domestic a "mutual assault"

Fistfight at first police ball in 70 years
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
By Jeremy Boren
Saturday, October 27, 2007
A veteran police officer and his ex-girlfriend face simple assault charges for getting into a fight after attending the city's first police ball in 70 years, police said Friday. Witnesses told police they saw Officer Anthony L. Charles, 48, of Homewood and retired Officer Tracey R. Williamson, 44, of Lincoln-Lemington fighting... A security guard called police, who found Charles with blood trickling from his upper lip and Williamson complaining of a broken finger... Police Chief Nate Harper said he will immediately refer the matter to the city's Office of Municipal Investigations. The arrests come at a time when the police bureau is under scrutiny for how it deals with officers accused of domestic violence. "The fact that this occurred and we've been under the spotlight, we wanted to be transparent about this," Harper said. City Council is set to consider an ordinance that would require police to report instances of domestic abuse or face discipline or termination. The proposal followed a firestorm of criticism after the June promotions of three police officers who had faced allegations of domestic problems. Harper said he would decide whether to suspend Charles without pay after he and Williamson were arraigned, which was expected to happen late yesterday. Both planned to surrender, a bureau spokeswoman said. "These two have had an intimate relationship in the past, and (Thursday) night they got into a dispute, and it was a mutual assault" said police Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson, adding that the two did not go to the ball together. Donaldson said Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. decided Charles and Williamson should be charged with simple assault... Williamson also is charged with theft for allegedly stealing Charles' cell phone, which fell to the ground during the scuffle, Donaldson said...

1 comment:

  1. Cop, ex-girlfriend face court in fracas at Policeman's Ball
    Pittsburgh Post Gazette, PA
    By Torsten Ove
    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    A veteran city police officer and his ex-girlfriend, a retired officer, are scheduled to appear in court to face charges that they assaulted each other during a domestic dispute at the Policeman's Ball last week.

    Officer Anthony L. Charles, 48, of Kelly Street, Homewood, and retired Officer Tracey R. Williamson, 44, of Broadhead Street, Lincoln-Lemington, were arraigned Friday in City Court on one count each of simple assault, a misdemeanor.

    Both were released on their own recognizance and will have a preliminary hearing in City Court on Thursday.

    An officer on the scene advised both to file protection-from-abuse orders against each other, although court records don't indicate if they did.

    The timing of the incident could hardly have been worse for the Police Bureau.

    The department's policies on domestic violence have been under scrutiny since three officers were promoted this summer despite past allegations of abuse.

    The controversy over those promotions has led to a proposed ordinance by City Council President Doug Shields that would require more extensive background checks of new hires and bar the hiring of police recruits with "tendencies indicative of abusive behavior."

    It would also require police supervisors to review the employment status and assignments of an officer subject to a PFA.

    In addition, Councilman William Peduto has proposed amendments that would compel officers who are subjects of domestic violence investigations or PFAs to surrender their guns.

    Police Chief Nate Harper refused to comment on the incident yesterday. Diane Richard, the bureau's spokeswoman, said the case has been referred to the city's Office of Municipal Investigations.

    Officer Charles, who works at Zone 3 on the South Side, will remain on active duty pending the outcome of the preliminary hearing.

    According to an affidavit, police responded to a report of a city officer being attacked by his ex-girlfriend at the ball at the Hilton Hotel at 10:47 p.m.

    Officer James Zigarella found Ms. Williamson on a park bench in the hotel courtyard. She said Officer Charles had pushed her to the ground during an altercation that began when she "asked him a question."

    She said she hurt her little finger in the incident, although Officer Zigarella said he didn't notice any bleeding or swelling.

    Officer Zigarella said Officer Charles' clothing was disheveled and blood trickled from a scratch on his lip. Officer Charles said Ms. Williamson had accused him of bringing a date to the ball, although Officer Charles said he came alone.

    He said Ms. Williamson, who appeared drunk, attacked him near the courtyard water fountain and "tried ripping off his shirt while swinging her hands at him," according to the affidavit.

    Officer Charles said he tried to push her away.

    Several witnesses, including a man and a woman who were a few feet away, said Ms. Williamson was the aggressor and that Officer Charles acted in self-defense.

    A hotel employee who was 60 yards away said she saw an "altercation" and heard the word "gun." Officer Charles was wearing his service weapon.

    Ms. Williamson asked paramedics to take her to a hospital, but she stumbled when she got off the bench. Paramedics placed her on a stretcher, but she told them they had to wait for her sister to arrive because she had to give her a valet ticket for her car.

    When the paramedics said they couldn't wait, "she became irate and refused to be transported," Officer Zigarella wrote.

    He said Ms. Williamson showed signs of being intoxicated, including aggression, slurred speech and difficulty maintaining her balance.

    Officer Charles did not appear impaired, he said.

    First published on October 30, 2007 at 12:00 am

    Torsten Ove can be reached at tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510.



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