A Wilkinsburg police officer, who Pittsburgh City Paper has identified as Seth Taylor, punched a protester to the ground during a demonstration against police brutality on April 16. The group of around 20 people gathered to demand justice for Jim Rogers, a Black man who died in October 2021 less than 24 hours after Pittsburgh Police officers tased him eight times.
Eve Pfieffer of "Justice for Jim Rogers" said in an announcement prior to the demonstration that the goal of the march was twofold. "On the one hand, we intend to march to honor Jim's life and who he was as a person," said Pfieffer in a statement. "On the other, we march to demand that the city and county officials act immediately in charging and firing all of the officers and EMS officials who were culpable in this horrible act of brutality and injustice."
Pittsburgh City Paper followed as the "Justice for Jim Rogers" group marched from North Homewood Street along Penn Avenue in Point Breeze all the way through Wilkinsburg on Saturday, stopping at various intersections to inform the public about why they're demonstrating, sharing personal testimonials and stories.
It was at the group’s second stop at the intersection of Penn Avenue and Center Street in Wilkinsburg, while Diamond Rogers, the niece of Jim Rogers, started to talk about her uncle, that police from various departments, including Wilkinsburg and Edgewood, got on the speaker system and told protesters to leave, stating that it was an ‘"unlawful assembly."
Once the officer who gave the orders to disperse from the street came out of his vehicle, several other officers joined in the effort to get everyone on the sidewalk. During an altercation between two Wilkinsburg police officers, Taylor and Chris Duncan, and Toy Slaughter and another protester they referred to as their daughter another member of the march stepped in to separate them. It was then that Officer Taylor was witnessed punching the intervening protester and knocking them to the ground.
The protester who was struck was identified as Vuestro Merced, and has been released from police custody according to a Twitter post.
Merced then had multiple officers and a K-9 unit descend upon them, and was handcuffed and put in the back of an Edgewood police cruiser while Slaughter was also handcuffed and put into another police vehicle.