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Rioters Face Criminal Charges in Pittsburgh, PA

Read about the protests at the Pittsburgh Allegheny County Jail from WTAE Channel 4 News and KDKA CBS Pittsburgh. Eleven people are facing criminal charges after protesting poor conditions at the Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh, PA.


CBS Pittsburgh, Channel 2 News KDKA

Hearing For Jail Protest Suspects Pushed Back Due To Attorney Scheduling Conflicts

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Eleven people accused in violent protests outside of the Allegheny County Jail were supposed to go before a Magistrate Judge Tuesday.

“There are some very serious allegations, but there are some interesting civil rights here,” said attorney David Shrager, who represents James Griffin.

On April 4, the case was supposed to be heard at Pittsburgh Municipal Court, but was continued because of attorney scheduling conflicts.

“Obviously, there is going to be a lot of evidence the Commonwealth will seek to introduce in this matter, we have rescheduled everything,” said attorney Patrick Nightingale, who represents Tyler Kobel.

Now, the preliminary hearing will take place on Friday, April 28 at 8 a.m. in a separate courtroom from other scheduled cases.

While the charges for each defendant differ, all of the allegations stem from the same incident, the protest that turned into a riot outside of the Allegheny County Jail on Monday, March 20.

According to Pittsburgh Police, the protesters were setting off fireworks, breaking windows and glass panels, and hurling rocks at the building.

The two facing the most serious charges are Griffin and Kobel, both 25. Their attorneys could not speak to the facts of the case, but said they believe the protests were at least partly about conditions in the Allegheny County Jail.

“It’s not the Holiday Inn or the Ritz-Carlton. But it is, compared to other jails in our country, quite nice. But at the same time, no one wants to be there,” said Shrager. “I can speak from my perspective of visiting jails, and I find it to be a very inhumane process to lock people in cages for anything but our most serious and violent offense,” said Nightingale.

All of the defendants are out on bail.


Alleged jail rioters show up for court


11 people are facing charges including criminal mischief, vandalism, and inciting a riot.

Updated: 9:57 PM EDT Apr 4, 2017

The lawyer for one man accused of being part of a riot outside the Allegheny County jail said Tuesday he’s seen no evidence that proves the man tried to hurt a Pittsburgh police officer responding to the March incident.

Eleven people are facing charges including criminal mischief, vandalism, and inciting a riot. Glass panels on the jail were shattered by rocks, windows on vehicles parked nearby were broken, and anti-jail graffiti was left on walls during the March 20 incident. The men and women accused of causing the damage appeared in court briefly Tuesday for a preliminary hearing.

Tyler Kobel is facing an additional charge of aggravated assault for allegedly fighting with a responding officer.

“I can say that from what I have reviewed, there is absolutely no evidence that my client acted with specific intent to cause bodily injuries to the officers,” said Kobel’s attorney, Patrick Nightingale. “The commonwealth is going to have to come forward with credible evidence to claim that my client or the other individuals charged, and say we can identify him committing a specific act of vandalism or violence, and I don’t think it’s there.”

Police said another man, James Griffin, had a backpack containing anarchist materials and a loaded gun.

“My client is licensed to carry a firearm, and legally allowed to own one and carry one,” Griffin’s lawyer, David J. Shrager said. “He is obeying the law, and exercising his rights. One of the important rights we have under the Constitution is the Second Amendment right, and that’s an important right.”

In the criminal complaint against the suspects, police said surveillance cameras mounted on the jail caught video of people wearing masks throwing rocks at the building. The damage happened after a series of demonstrations protesting conditions inside the jail.

Tuesday’s hearing was postponed until April 28.