Pennsylvania Record

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Pittsburgh police officer reinstated by arbitrator files suit against city over termination


By Carrie Bradon | May 20, 2019

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PITTSBURGH – An Allegheny County man alleges he lost his job as Pittsburgh police officer because of a "reckless investigation."

Robert Kramer filed a complaint on May 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania against the city of Pittsburgh, William Peduto, Scott Shubert, Edward Green, Shirley Epperson and John and/or Jane Doe(s) citing the 14th Amendment.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff began his employment with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in 2013 and was assigned to zone 1 in the city's Northside neighborhood for four years. 

The suit states the plaintiff responded to a violent domestic dispute on May 1, 2017, and his neck, lower back and right wrist were injured during the incident. The plaintiff alleges he attended an appointment at Concentra Occupational Health on May 3, 2017, to receive care for his injuries. 

The same day, the plaintiff alleges he was driving to get his prescription filled when an SUV approached behind his vehicle and then pulled up to the plaintiff's vehicle to yell at the plaintiff before driving off. The suit states the SUV's driver, Jesse Smith, called 911 and made a false allegation that the plaintiff was brandishing a silver firearm at him.

The plaintiff alleges three days before this incident, the same SUV blocked his driveway entrance. The plaintiff alleges he honked after waiting for a few minutes and after the SUV parked in a different spot, the plaintiff pulled into his driveway. The plaintiff was approached by Smith, who "aggressively approached the plaintiff with his fist clenched" but ceased movement and altered his course, the suit states.

The suit states Smith posted a video on Facebook on May 4, 2017, and described the encounter with the plaintiff, making statements that were not true. The plaintiff alleges he was contacted by a detective and he told the detective that he did not have a gun with him when Smith alleged that he did in the May 3 incident. The detective incorrectly recorded that the plaintiff stated he did not own a silver firearm.

The suit states the plaintiff's home was searched on Aug. 1, 2017, and they found a silver gun, which the plaintiff relinquished. The plaintiff alleges he was eventually served with a warrant or summons and was filed with a disciplinary action report on Aug. 15, 2017. The suit states the plaintiff was put on a five-day suspension on Sept. 27, 2017, and on Oct. 4, 2017, the plaintiff's employment was terminated. 

The plaintiff was found not guilty of simple assault on Sept.11, 2018. The suit states an arbitrator ordered his reinstatement on March 19.

The plaintiff alleges his constitutional rights were violated because the defendants knew or should have known that there was no lawful basis upon which to investigate him with criminal misconduct and ignored evidence.

The plaintiff is seeking all reasonable sums due, attorney fees and court costs. The plaintiff is represented by Joel S. Sansone, Massimo A. Terzigni and Elizabeth A. Tuttle of the Law Offices of Joel Sansone in Pittsburgh.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania case number 2:19-CV-00539

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U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Division

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