Thursday, January 27, 2011
In case you missed it, our very own Chris Young has a piece wrapping up the Dreaming Ant raid we reported here last week. This piece -- in the current print edition -- focuses on some of the legal concerns arising from the case. Also, I'll take this opportunity to satisfy some requests we've had for the full copy of the search warrant used in the case, and the affidavit filed to secure it.
While we're on the subject of policing, it's worth noting this story, from the Post-Gazette's Sadie Gurman.
The city's Office of Municipal Investigations has sustained a woman's complaint that a Pittsburgh police officer engaged in unbecoming conduct toward her during her May arrest at the Municipal Courts Building Downtown.
In the incident, Officer Anthony Scarpine charged Christine Condarcure, of North Apollo, with intimidating a witness and simple assault after he wrote in a sworn affidavit that she "threw an elbow/forearm" into the chest of a witness who was testifying in a case against her son, Taylor Condarcure, as he left a courtroom.
OMI questioned whether Officer Scarpine actually witnessed the incident.
"The office reviewed video surveillance of the incident and determined that while you made contact with a prosecution witness, you did not throw an elbow into the witness' chest/stomach area as alleged in the investigative report and affidavit of probable cause," OMI Manager Kathleen Kraus wrote in a letter to Ms. Condarcure, dated Jan. 10. "Moreover, Officer Scarpine alleged that he observed the incident between you and the prosecution witness. This office determined that Officer Scarpine never observed this incident."
If the name "Anthony Scarpine" sounds familiar to you, it may be because of THIS story, also from Sadie Gurman. Scarpine was one of the officers accused of making a wrongful arrest on the North Side last year, alleging a drug deal that video evidence suggests never took place.
A judge later tossed out the case against Scarpine, saying he was relying on information provided by another officer. But prosecutors said they might refile charges against him -- and that they were reviewing his role in other cases. And now, it seems, Scarpine is involved in a second case where video evidence apparently doesn't confirm police accounts.
On a totally unrelated matter, Rich Fitzgerald will be kicking off his campaign for county executive tomorrow morning -- and he intends to hit the ground running.
The Fitzgerald camp is predicting that when his campaign officially gets underway, it will have somewhere between $750,000 and $1 million in its account. And I've heard from multiple sources that Fitzgerald, who is currently the president of county council, will come out of the gate touting the support from dozens of Democratic committee ward chairs, including those representing most of the city. Democratic officeholders will be in his ranks as well, including Congressman Mike Doyle.
Fitzgerald's rival, county controller Mark Patrick Flaherty, has boasted of having roughly $500,000 in its account. And of course, he's got that magical Flaherty name. But by all accounts I'm hearing, Fitzgerald has attracted much more support from other officials, as well as traditional Democratic backers in labor and elsewhere.
Fitzgerald tells me he's not expecting any other Democrats to enter the fray. "The next county executive will be either me or Mark Patrick Flaherty," he says.
Of course Republicans might have something to say about that, and a moment later Fitzgerald added that he "doesn't take any challenger lightly." Local Tea Partier leader Patty Weaver is rumored to be considering a run, and Fitzgerald says he takes her seriously. But "If my opponent is [county councilor] Matt Drozd," he said, "I might have a chance." This was, I think, a bit of wry understatement.
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