G-20 hearings continue: 36 of 72 arrestees opt for community service

By Liz Navratil

Pitt student Daniel Martin walked into the Pittsburgh Municipal Court building shortly before 8… Pitt student Daniel Martin walked into the Pittsburgh Municipal Court building shortly before 8 a.m.

“Find your seat and sit there the whole time,” someone from the district attorney’s office told Martin’s group of defendants — many of whom were Pitt students.

Martin sat in the front row, where he waited for more than an hour before the judge heard his case.

Martin, 25, was charged with disorderly conduct and failure to disperse after police arrested him near Fifth Avenue Friday, Sept. 25.

After the wait, Martin became one of about 90 people who accepted community service in exchange for having their trials delayed 90 days, hoping they might have their charges withdrawn.

“I just want to say that this is in no way an admission of guilt,” Martin said. “It is solely so this … arrest doesn’t use any more of my time or interfere with my attempts to be a teacher.”

Martin was one of 72 people who appeared in court Friday. The 36 who took the community service will appear in court January alongside others who took the same deal during their Wednesday hearings, to prove they’ve done their service and possibly have their charges withdrawn.

For most of the others, Friday consisted of shifting through hours of often confusing testimony.

When police and students conflict

Pitt student Adam Dulak and police officers presented different accounts of Dulak’s arrest Thursday, Sept. 24, the night before the G-20 Summit.

City police Lt. Ed Trapp provided an overview of the night, saying about 800 to 1,000 people had gathered in Oakland.

The crowd became “belligerent” and officers used a Long Range Acoustic Device, a machine capable of broadcasting messages a minimum of a quarter mile away at its lowest setting, to tell people in Schenley Plaza they needed to disperse, Trapp said.

Initially, the crowd only had to disperse from Schenley Plaza, he said. But as the crowd moved, the area from which they were ordered to disperse changed.

Trapp said the order to disperse did not apply to people who were in buildings, including businesses and dormitories.

Detective Dave Honick testified that he had been working a 16- to 18-hour shift for the S.W.A.T. team the night Dulak was arrested.

He said he saw Dulak, whom he first referred to as “Mr. Dulsky,” in a group of 20 to 25 people on Oakland Avenue. He said the group impeded the flow of traffic.

Honick said he yelled at the crowd to move away from officers, but the crowd approached officers, anyway. He said officers deployed smoke into the crowd, “trying to give them a warning not to come down this way.”

He said officers then deployed a canister of OC gas, or pepper spray, into the crowd.

“Mr. Dulak marched through the smoke toward me,” Honick said, which caused him to deploy the gas between him and Dulak. “He fell to the ground, and I picked him up and moved him out of the way.”

Honick said he thought Dulak, 22, was intoxicated.

Officers arrested Dulak shortly after midnight for failure to disperse.

Dulak’s friend, Pitt student Michael McDermott, 22, testified in court Friday morning.

He said Dulak met him at his apartment around 8:30 p.m. Sept. 24 and that the two stayed there until they decided to go to Peter’s Pub.

They arrived at the Oakland Avenue bar between 11 and 11:15 p.m., he said. Dulak had two drinks before the pair decided to leave so Dulak could meet his girlfriend.

Both McDermott and Dulak said they didn’t hear any warnings to disperse while they headed into the bar and that they didn’t hear any warnings when they were in the bar.

“It was very loud in there,” Dulak said.

But when he stepped outside, he quickly encountered a cloud of gas.

“I inhaled it, started coughing, spun around and went to one knee against the building. I saw something coming at me and got sprayed,” he said, referring to the riot control gas.

Dulak said he was on the sidewalk when police arrested him and that officers moved him into the street.

Noting the differences between the two accounts, Assistant District Attorney Geoffrey Melada asked Dulak during cross-examination, “So when the officer testified before … that was a complete lie?”

“Yes,” Dulak said.

The judge withdrew Dulak’s misdemeanor charge of failure to disperse, instead finding him guilty of the lesser offenses of obstructing highways and disorderly conduct and fining him $300.

“They could figure it out on their own”

Defense attorneys and police officers spent much of the seven and a half hours of Friday afternoon and early evening debating the logistics of Friday, Sept. 25, when 54 people were arrested on the Cathedral of Learning lawn.

Trapp provided an overarching testimony for everyone who didn’t accept the community service Friday.

Trapp said he arrived in Oakland around 9:10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, about two and a half hours after the Summit ended.

He said about 150 to 200 people gathered in Schenley Plaza and about 160 to 170 remained when police gave the order to disperse.

Another officer, Detective William Friburger, later testified that between 500 and 600 people were in the Plaza.

People watching the testimonies gasped.

Trapp said that when he arrived in the Plaza, “There were people in the crowd that were throwing things. I could see something going through the air — bottles.”

He said police gave the order to disperse at 10:42 p.m., when the crowd became “more and more belligerent toward police.”

Attorney Jon Pushinsky asked Trapp what he meant by “belligerent.”

“Coming up to the police, screaming, yelling, that sort of thing,” Trapp said.

“Is there anything illegal about screaming at the police?” Pushinsky asked.


Pushinsky said one of the critical elements of a disorderly conduct charge is that three or more people acted disorderly. He asked Trapp if he would give the names of specific people who acted disorderly.

“I specifically can’t point anybody out as acting disorderly,” Trapp said.

He said officers had left the northeast corner of the Plaza, near the Forbes Avenue and Schenley Drive Extension intersection, accessible.

“We didn’t want try to close the gap,” he said.

Pushinsky asked Trapp if it would be reasonable for people to think they’d dispersed if they’d left the plaza.

Assistant District Attorney Courtney Butterfield objected to Pushinsky’s question, saying it was speculation to ask what people would think is reasonable.

Trapp later testified that officers received the order to arrest at 11:07 p.m. He said he wasn’t sure what time the order to arrest people specifically on the Cathedral lawn was given.

He said officers arrested people on the Cathedral lawn because Pitt police chief Tim Delaney told him the campus police didn’t want anyone on University property Thursday night.

“My understanding was that it would be the same Friday night,” Trapp said, later adding that he hadn’t spoken with Delaney about Friday night.

When contacted by The Pitt News, Delaney declined to respond to Trapp’s testimony.

“I am moving forward. Respectfully, I don’t have a comment,” he said.

Attorney Cindy Cooke asked Trapp if Pitt students were told to leave Pitt property.

“All we told them was to leave the Plaza,” Trapp said.

“Did you tell them which direction to go to get home?” the she asked.

By the time police began to arrest people on the Cathedral lawn, officers had surrounded most of the Plaza and lined up across Forbes Avenue near the Bellefield Avenue intersection. Some police had also traveled down Bellefield Avenue.

Several students later testified that they thought moving across the Cathedral lawn was the best, if not the only, way to disperse.

One woman said officers told her to jump the hedges and move onto the Cathedral lawn, where she was eventually arrested.

In response to the lawyers’ question, Trapp said he “figured they were college students. They could figure it out on their own.”