Watch CBS News

Federal Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Pittsburgh Police, Mayor Peduto And City Officials For East Liberty Protest

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Protesters have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Pittsburgh Police Department, Mayor Bill Peduto and the City of Pittsburgh for their handling of a George Floyd protest in East Liberty earlier this month.

O'Brien Law, Abolitionist Law Center, and Elzer Law Firm, LLC. are representing the protesters. The lawsuit claims police "unleashed violence on peaceful demonstrators" on June 1. The lawsuit says police used explosives, chemical agents and ammunition against protesters. Attorneys say that 22 demonstrators were unlawfully arrested as well. The Allegheny County District Attorney withdrew those charges on June 18.

The lawsuit also singles out Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich, Mayor Bill Peduto and Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert for telling "flagrant lies" to the public in a press conference held immediately after the protest.

There are at least six named plaintiffs in the lawsuit.


"In Pittsburgh and across the country, police officers' use of chemical weapons such as tear gas and projectile munitions such as rubber bullets, beanbag rounds, and sponge grenades against protesters has resulted in serious and debilitating injuries. Moreover, the routine and indiscriminate use of these tactics deters would-be protesters from exercising their First Amendment right to peaceably assemble and petition the government," said the attorneys representing the Protesters.

Pittsburgh Public Safety later admitted to using gas and smoke after first denying.

"We hope that we will get a federal court to issue an injunction saying police can never do something like this again," said attorney Margaret Coleman.

The lawsuit is requesting that the City of Pittsburgh to not declare peaceful protests unlawful and that projectiles and chemical agents not be used against peaceful protesters. Protesters are also asking for money to cover damages.

The attorneys say they have collected more than 30 pieces of video they say was taken during the protest.

"They said they didn't do these things. And if we didn't have the video evidence, on the contrary, they may very well get away with it," said attorney Christine Elzer.

Once the city responds to the complaint, the case heads to the discovery phase, where attorneys hope to uncover more hard evidence of what happened.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.