Woman who claims Pittsburgh police used excessive force on her up for $40K settlement

Updated less than a minute ago

Pittsburgh City Council is poised to approve a $40,000 settlement for a Trafford woman who claims she was assaulted by officers in her own home five years ago.

Deborah Trzeciak, 60, filed a civil lawsuit against the city and five individual police officers in December, alleging excessive force and failure to properly train and supervise Pittsburgh police officers. She lived in Pittsburgh’s Knoxville neighborhood at the time of the incident.

The settlement, recommended by city solicitor Yvonne S. Hilton on Sept. 8, was on council’s agenda for Wednesday but instead was held for executive session.

Attorneys on the case provided notice June 25 that it had been resolved and all that remained was the payment of the settlement proceeds, according to the federal court docket.

Trzeciak was asleep about 7:30 a.m. on March 10, 2015, when her son told her the police were in the living room of their home, according to the lawsuit.

When she went there, she found Pittsburgh police Officer Zachary Vozza.

According to the lawsuit, he told her that her son’s friend had taken his car without permission and crashed it.

The lawsuit alleges that Vozza repeatedly yelled at Trzeciak to “shut up,” and at one point called for back up officers and pushed her to the floor. The push caused her to fracture her right elbow, according to the lawsuit.

Then, the complaint said that Vozza and responding officers attacked her son, damaging the house.

During the incident, other officers rushed at Trzeciak, kneeled on her back on the floor , and handcuffed and shackled her, the lawsuit said.

She was dragged out of the house, barefoot, and put in a vehicle to be taken to the Allegheny County Jail, according to the complaint.

Trzeciak was charged with assault, obstruction and resisting arrest. In the criminal complaint, Vozza wrote that Trzeciak pushed his arm while trying to close the front door of the home and that she “stood in place ‘with her chest pumped out in a fighting stance.’”

After she was released from jail, Trzeciak went to UPMC Mercy, the lawsuit said, where medical personnel diagnosed the fracture and found 41 separate abrasions and contusions.

At a preliminary hearing on the criminal charges, the lawsuit said, Vozza “conceded” that seven officers entered Trzeciak’s home without a warrant or consent.

On Dec. 8, 2015, Trzeciak pleaded guilty to reduced charges, including two counts of summary harassment and one count of disorderly conduct.

As a result of the incident, the lawsuit said, Trzeciak lost her job.

Paula Reed Ward is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paula by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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