Two Allegheny County councilors call for charges on West Mifflin police following alleged assault of teenage girl | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Two Allegheny County councilors call for charges on West Mifflin police following alleged assault of teenage girl

click to enlarge Two Allegheny County councilors call for charges on West Mifflin police following alleged assault of teenage girl
Courtesy of Olivia Bennett and CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Olivia Benett and Bethany Hallam
Last month, West Mifflin Police responded to an alleged altercation between two students on a school bus leaving West Mifflin High School. On Dec. 18, two West Mifflin officers entered the bus and apprehended one of the teenage girls, and then charged one of the girls, but have not released details on the charge. According to a short video posted by the teenage girl's lawyer, one of the officers can be seen yanking at the girl’s hair, causing her head to jerk back during this apprehension.

The lawyer, Paul Jubas, says the incident is an assault on the teenage girl and he is calling on Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala to file assault charges against the officers. Today, he is being joined by Allegheny County Councilors Olivia Bennett (D-North Side) and Bethany Hallam (D-Ross).

In a press release, the two councilors wrote that they “would like to express their deepest sympathy for the 15-year-old student” and the “brutal treatment of a young Black girl by officers who are supposed to protect and serve is inexcusable.”

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This past Wednesday a 15 year old girl was brutally assaulted by West Mifflin police officers on a school bus. My office has been retained by her parents to represent her throughout her legal ordeal. Sergeant Christopher Mordaunt and Officer Tommy Trieu committed a crime when they brutally assaulted this tiny girl. They sprayed her blood all over her fellow students and incited riot-like conditions on a school bus. Everything was calm on this bus until these officers began their vicious assault. To make matters worse, other videos prove they lied in their affidavit of probable cause. She’s taking college level courses at West Mifflin High School, and studying Culinary Arts at Steel Center Vo-Tech. After school every day, she works the 3-10 shift at a local fast food restaurant. She started her own bakery business in middle school and operates it to this day. She intends on growing her business once she graduates from high school. This disgusting incident was her first brush with the law, and it will not define her. It will, however, have definitive consequences for Sergeant Christopher Mordaunt, Officer Tommy Trieu and the West Mifflin police department. We demand the immediate firing of these officers. All charges against her must also be dropped. More to come, stay tuned.

A post shared by Paul Jubas, Esq. (@pauljubasesq) on

Bennett and Hallam added that this incident only perpetuates findings from a recent report about racial and gender inequities in Pittsburgh. According to the report titled “Pittsburgh’s Inequality Across Gender and Race,” the region is one of the least healthy regions for Black women in the U.S.

“There have also been reports on the inequities in this region regarding arrests and citations in our schools," Bennett and Hallam wrote. “Incidents like these show us how much work we still have to do to end the school to prison pipeline. The attack of this young lady is further evidence of the work that still needs to be done.”

Zappala’s office told KDKA in December that it’s not permitted to comment on information involving juvenile court proceedings. Phil DiLucente, the solicitor for West Mifflin, told KDKA the borough had no comment on potential criminal charges because the case involved a juvenile, but did say the police officers acted appropriately.

Bennett and Hallam also renewed calls for the formation of a countywide citizen police review commission. “We cannot have police patrolling our streets that are abusive to young Black girls and to our communities at large,” read the press release. “We will continue to fight to form a Civilian Police Review Board so abusive police officers are held accountable.”

Last August, county council voted down the creation of the police review board by a vote of 9-6. However, new councilors have been seated since that vote, including three new members who support such an initiative. Bennett was also recently placed as chair of the public safety committee, which is in charge of bringing up votes on a potential bill creating a citizen police review commission.