Update to the Pittsburgh police beating/tazing

44 Comments

In the wake of that video we posted earlier of the guy getting beaten and the tazed by police at PNC Park in Saturday — posted again below for your convenience — the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Big League Stew) has tracked down the police report and has comments from the Pittsburgh Police Department:

“We both feared for our safety,” city detective Francis Rende wrote in a criminal complaint filed yesterday. The other officer named is Lebella, but no first name is given.

City police spokeswoman Diane Richard declined comment through an e-mail saying she had not reviewed the police reports. Police had to intervene because the man appeared to be drunk, bothered fans in his section and belligerently refused to cooperate with PNC Park staff who asked him to leave, team spokesman Brian Warecki said … “We were being surrounded by the drunked fans and finally got the actor up and took him to the security office,” Rende wrote. “All the while facing the wrath of a very hostile crowd.”

Like I said this morning, you can’t necessarily judge what went down just by watching the video. At the same time, as many commenters said earlier, it does seem like a rather … unorthodox way to take down a belligerent suspect.  The tazer seemed to hit the guys jacket, not the guy himself. The first hit with the club was then met with … nothing, as if they were waiting to see what the guy would do. If the crowd was getting hostile and unruly, it probably had something to do with the fact that the police didn’t seem to have total control of the situation for a good while.  It was just odd.

I’ll leave it to independent law enforcement experts to say whether this situation was handled correctly, but at least we have more information now.

Report: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

Getty Images
Leave a comment

T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.