Pitt student, alumnus sue city over G-20 arrests

By Staff Report

A Pitt student and a Pitt alumnus sued the city of Pittsburgh today saying that police officers… A Pitt student and a Pitt alumnus sued the city of Pittsburgh on Friday, saying that police officers acting under its authority violated their constitutional rights during last year’s G-20 Summit.

Nathan Poloni and Ryan Kingston said in their lawsuit that they were subject to “de facto marshal law” on Sept. 24, 2009, the Thursday night of the Summit. Both men said police officers “assaulted them, arrested them, imprisoned them, put them in fear of serious bodily harm and held them against their will over a period of several hours.”

Representatives from the city solictor’s office and the mayor’s office could not be reached for comment.

Poloni and Kingston give similar stories in their lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court.

Poloni, currently a sophomore, said he tried to visit friends in one of the Litchfield Towers at about 10 p.m. when uniformed officers “threw him to ground, struck him in the head … and handcuffed him.”

Kingston, now a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was a resident assistant in Towers and a senior at the time of the Summit. He said in the lawsuit that he attempted to enter Towers that night when officers “placed him in a chokehold and violently threw him to the ground.”

Kingston said an officer told him to shut up when Kingston attempted to tell them he lived in the building.

Both Kingston and Poloni said officers took them near the Cornerstone Church, where they remained bent over the stone wall for about an hour before police moved them to the Western Penitentiary. Both men were released at about 5:15 a.m.

According to the suit, Kingston was accused of disorderly conduct and failure to disperse, and the charges against him were eventually dismissed. Poloni was accused of failure to disperse and his charges were either withdrawn or dismissed.

Both men said in the suit filed yesterday that they suffered psychological harm, among other things, because of the arrests. They are seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

This is at least the second federal lawsuit Pitt students have filed against the city because of G-20 arrests. City officers worked during the Summit, as did thousands of out-of-town officers who were sworn in for the occasion.