Joey Porter, assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers, was arrested outside a Pittsburgh bar on Sunday night. The officer who arrested him, Paul Abel, was reportedly off-duty working at another assignment nearby and went to the Flats.
Officer [Paul] Abel wrote that he went to the Flats and saw Mr. Porter “standing over the door man, later identified as Jon Neskow.” Mr. Neskow told Mr. Porter, “Last time you (Porter) were here, you threatened to kill me. You need to leave. You are not getting in,” according to the complaint.
Officer Abel wrote that he asked what was happening, but Mr. Porter did not respond and several men, who are not identified in court documents, said, “Officer, we got him. We got him.”
“As soon as these…males stated this, Porter lunged at Neskow and grasped Neskow by his arms and lifting him up off the ground,” according to the complaint.
Abel also says that Porter grabbed his arm tightly, when Abel tried to restrain him. After Porter let go, Abel activated his body camera by unzipping his coat.
However, the account is in dispute. Two people told WTAE News 4 in Pittsburgh that they witnessed the incident and that Porter had a verbal altercation with the bouncer at the Flats, but it did not get physical.
“He didn’t do anything wrong,” said Lamar Simon. “He didn’t put his hands on anyone. It was a verbal altercation that got blown out of proportion, and then they took him to jail.”
“The way they treated him was ridiculous,” said Gavin Wiefling, a bouncer at Winghart’s, which is across Carson Street from The Flats. “He wasn’t violent. Nothing. They just wouldn’t let him in.”
Meanwhile, the Citizen Police Review Board, an independent city agency, has announced that they will conduct a review of the arrest because of the officer involved.
We opened an inquiry partly because of the high visibility the incident has brought with the celebrity of Mr. Porter, and certainly Officer Abel’s public persona has indicated that there is some public suspicion about his credibility,” Pittinger said Tuesday. “All of those things are irrelevant to our investigation at this time. What we’re interested in determining is what transpired Sunday night outside The Flats bar on East Carson Street, what Mr. Porter did, what Officer Abel did to intervene, what witnesses may have seen and whether or not Officer Abel complied to the bureau’s policy on body-worn cameras.”
According to WTAE, Officer Abel was accused of pistol-whipping and shooting a man during a 2008 off-duty incident. He was found not guilty, but later he and the city were sued as a result.
Acting Police Chief Scott Schubert released a statement in support of the officer:
“In order to clear the air regarding conflicting reports in the media surrounding the circumstances that led to the arrest of Mr. Porter, I reviewed video available from several vantage points, including the arresting officer’s body-worn camera. I have concluded that the officer’s account of the incident is accurate and our officer conducted himself in the professional manner that is to be expected. Once the altercation began, the officer turned on his body-worn camera as soon as he was safely able. I support the actions of Officer Paul Abel in this arrest.”