An ex-Pittsburgh police sergeant, Stephen Matakovich, who viciously beat a football fan, has been accused of using unnecessary force 56 times since 2011.
Stephen Matakovich was caught on video cruelly punching and hitting a teenage football fan, Gabriel Despres after ordering the 19-year-old to leave Heinz Field on November 28, 2015. Matakovich falsified arrest reports and has since been accused of using excessive force in multiple cases by the district attorney.
The surveillance footage showed Matakovich hitting the innocent Despres several times without any form of provocation or retaliation from the teen. But in the ex- cop’s report, he claimed that Despres looked like he was going to attack him, as he appeared to have adopted an “aggressive posture.”
Despres was later treated for a bloody nose and he eventually pleaded guilty to public drunkenness and trespassing. Matakovich was fired by the Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay after he watched the footage of the incident. McLay launched an investigation into the case, which has brought about the ex- cop’s state trial.
Matakovich was charged with official oppression and simple assault in a state court and also faces federal counts of falsification of records and civil rights deprivation. Although his state charges are minimal, the federal charges could lead to Matakovich spending 30 years in prison if found guilty.
Allegheny County prosecutors presented evidence to prove Matakovich’s history of violence, excessive use of force against 56 other people and how he assaulted and arrested a security guard on fabricated charges. 20 cases out of the 56 saw the victims receive strikes to the face and head, with 17 of them suffering from loss of consciousness, broken jaws and noses.
The security guard, Dylan Burton was beaten by Matakovich in 2014 when there was a fight at Heinz Field. Matakovich was in plain clothes when he tried to break the fight before Burton attempted to question the ex-cop, but he was ignored. Burton reached for Matakovich’s shoulder to draw his attention when the cop attacked and beat him mercilessly. Burton was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
“In both cases, the defendant charged aggravated assault on a police officer when neither Despres nor Burton had come anywhere close to committing such an offense,” the motion said. “Furthermore, in an attempt to support this felony charge and justify his excessive force, in each case the defendant concocted a version of events to fit his narrative. Finally, in an attempt to clear himself of potential accusations of wrongdoing and put the incidents to rest, the defendant offered Despres and Burton pleas to summary harassment.”
The consistent use of excessive force by officers in the law enforcement is really absurd. Police officers are supposed to keep peace in our society, and not the other way around, assaulting and fabricating charges against innocent people. Has it reached the point of absolute fear of the police by the people? Law enforcement is in urgent need of reform because at the moment, officers are behaving like thugs.