Jul 21, 2006, 1:41 AM
Post #1 of 1
This is the complaint filed with OMI on March 31st. It's similar to my original post, but more details, as I remembered them. In the intervening time, I've remembered some additional things, and had some memories clarified. I was in severe pain, and distress from the moment of grabbing one of the scam artists, until days later. It's not a great situation to be in, especially if the police are not helping you, but rather the cause of most of your injuries and pain.
Complaint as filed with OMI March 31st
I am filling out the Citizens Police Review Board papers, which will include this statement.
Anger? You bet. And I'm proud of it! I'm not accepting this as "business as usual." As the song goes, "Politically UnCorrect" "We the People" still have rights, and one is to not be victimized by our police and elected officials. At some point you have to let your feelings out, and these are mine. I'm not accepting what happened. I'm not running from it. I can't live with what happened, and I have to try to see that some justice is served. I may be foolish, as most people are telling me, but if you turn your head, and look away, and pretend it's not going on, one day, no matter where you turn, it will be in your face.
On Feb 21st I went to the squirrel hill giant eagle, to pick up a few late night
Coming out of the store, the parking lot employee who was out by the carts was
yelling at one of the other employees, produce probably, who was inside the
double doors. He was yelling out obscenities about the customers, and calling
the customers names, and yelling about how stupid they were for not reading his
little signs. He had put a torn cardboard sign in a cart in the middle of the
entry way saying something about the carts locking, I think. I saw the
cardboard, not the words.
My car was at the meter just outside the entry way, and my cart locked as I
neared the edge of the walk. He started yelling at me. When I said he couldn't
talk to the customers that way, he said yes he could. I asked for his name, and
he covered his badge, clenched his teeth at me, and ran off into the back
parking lot, muttering more nastiness.
At this time, a group of 5 youths was passing by, and was laughing at the
situation. They started running the game on me, asking for something to drink
(I had several cases of coke in my cart). I told them it was for my kids, and
they needed to get their own. I turned my back, and they grabbed at least one,
and ran. The two larger kids acted as blockers for the others.
I grabbed the girl, by her coat, and pulled her back to the lighted entry, and
called 911. She started to struggle away, but I held on, calling for help. I
held on to her coat sleeve, not her person.
Some people and employees came out of the giant eagle, but rather than helping
me or offiering assistance, such as a group circle to contain the individual,
the manager, a female, started yelling at me, telling me I couldn't harass or
grab her "customers" and refused to listen to anything I said. She then jumped
me, forcing me to release the person, and thus any hope of finding out the other
She PREVENTED the solving of a crime, and encouraged such snatch and grabs to
Additionally, I was now in a fragile state of mind. Rather than getting help, I
was assaulted, and caused great pain to my already failing back and body. My
heart rate was way up, and was over 130 for a long time, even in the ER. My
pain levels were extreme.
She refused to acknowledge her actions, even when one of the people on the
street, all I remember is he looked like a bicyclist, in dress. He had a beard,
possibly red/brown. He said "It could have happened that way. You didn't see
And that was key. She didn't see anything, and refused to listen, or hear what
I was saying. BUT, some how she knew what happened from inside the store, and
that I was the one doing wrong, not the one who had been robbed on her property
(by definition, the cart locked before leaving their property, ergo I was robbed
on Giant Eagle property).
That was the way of the night.
When the police finally arrived, I was leaning over the row of carts, trying to
get my breath, and control the pain. I was partially in tears, as the pain was
severe. The police man, all I remember is an Aryan looking, mean presence, with
a bad attitude. I remember a female officer also coming from up the street,
facing me, holstering her night stick.
He refused to talk to me, and I should have been the person he talked to, as I
made the 911 call. He should have asked "Who made the call" and rather than
telling me to shut up again and again, should have listened.
There was nothing going on at this time, it was all over. The manager was
sitting on the inside wall, I was leaning over the carts, I don't know where the
After what seemed forever, the office asked "What happened" and I thought I
finally had my chance to be heard - or even listened to. I said I was robbed
and grabbed one of them and that the manger jumped me and forced me to release
them. He said something along the lines of "what" and I said like this, and
approached him from the front and his left side, and put my arm across his chest
and said "like this".
He turned, and went into my face. I backed off, and backed up, and he said "I
TOLD you not to touch me."
I said, "No you didn't."
And he then came at me, and pushed me hard, twice, until I went backwards over
the short wall.
I was never any threat to anyone - even the person I tried to detain could have
gotten away from me - and once I backed off, the officer - with uniform, gun and
club -- had no reason, or right to go after me and push me, or even touch me.
HE asked what happened, and I tried to show him, since he wasn't listening at
From that point on, everything is a blur. I felt something pop, and could not
feel my legs or toes, and I went down, in a lump, along the wall, propped
partially against the garbage can. I remember that clearly, because NO ONE
offered to help me. No one.
At that point, the pain was a 25 on a scale of 1 to 10, and I could not feel or
move anything below my shoulders. I have a bad right arm and shoulder, and I
was laying on it, in a twisted manner, and could not move. I could move my head
I thought my back was broken, or at least critically in danger of breaking, and
something was pushing on my spine, since I had lost all feeling and movement
below my shoulders. As a physician, and long-time back-pain and chronic pain
sufferer, that was a fair assumption at the time.
All the words came at me like inside a tunnel, and I had no vision. In fact, I
didn't see anything until I was in the ambulance and it was moving. I saw some
shapes, but the tears and pain obscured my vision from focusing on anything or
I heard the officer call me a girl, saying "I've seen girls who take it better
I shouldn't have had to TAKE anything. I was a victim of a crime, and was now
crippled on the ground, being belittled, laughed at and humiliated.
He said other things to try to rile me into getting up. I didn't hear them
clearly, and don't remember them. I just remember how it was making me feel,
like nothing and completely victimized and helpless. Not one bit of concern
that he had really injured me, and that I was unable to get up or even move was
shown, and he was supposedly there to HELP and PROTECT *ME*. I had called them!
They (several voices) made fun of me, and one tried to get me to answer if that
was my car in front. He knew damn well it was, and it wasn't until he told me
"Well, if it is, we are going to tow it." That I got so angry, the adrenaline
must have overcome the pain, because I said "No you won't, that will be a big
problem for you." (or something similar, indicating that there was no reason for
them to tow the car, without cause).
He then started laughing at me, "See, got you! It is your car. Ha Ha."
I was so angry, I remember replying to the effect "Maybe it is, but any car
parked there is legal until 8am tomorrow, so if you tow it, you'll be in
I heard multiple times "He's got to do this, because if he doesn't go to the ER
he's going to jail." "If he gets up he's going to spend the night in jail."
And other threats of imprisonment and arrest - for no reason.
For what seemed like hours, but was probably around a half hour, I listed to
that, crumpled in pain, trying to focus. I remember repeating something,
probably "Get the ambulance" but I don't remember. I was trying to focus away
from the pain, and to remain conscious. Someone tried to touch me, after I had
slid down the garbage can, and I remember telling them to get away, "get the
ambulance." I don't remember much else. I don't remember if anyone tried to
move me until EMS arrived. I know no one talked to me, tried to calm me down,
or ease any of my pain or discomfort. I knew I couldn't move, and was helpless,
humiliated, and getting more and more scared I was not going to survive the
night, or was going to be permanently crippled.
I remember thinking this couldn't be happening. Not in America. Not in my
city. Not in Squirrel Hill. I remember trying to wake up from that dream, but
only fighting through more and more pain as time went on.
I'm not sure when exactly EMS arrived, as they did not identify themselves to
me, ask me what was wrong, or show any compassion or concern. Apparently, some
of what I had over heard, was the police telling EMS to treat me like street
trash, not as a human being in pain or in trouble.
I tried to call my wife, to have her explain, but they wouldn't let me, they
belittled me saying "do you want to go to the hospital or make phone calls." I
tried to get them to call her, but they wouldn't.
As a physician, I KNOW that is wrong, since if a person has a means of filling
you in with any details you take it. A phone, and a phone number of someone to
talk to is more than you could hope for.
But no, not one iota of concern.
They then lifted me, in a dead mans lift the LONG WAY across a stretcher or
board. I was in so much pain I only remember the color red.
They did not roll me, or try to be gentle - remember, they had not even asked me
what was wrong, where it hurt, or anything.
They then tried to strap me down, as roughly as possible. Lower back pain, and
problems are made worse when the legs are straightened, and they tried their
hardest to cause me as much pain as possible. I did manage to get my right leg
free of the lower restraint, and bend my knee which offered a HUGE amount of
relief, relative to the overall situation.
They then tried to put a neck brace on me, without any history, or complaint of
neck injury. They were so rough, that if I had a neck injury, I'd have been
crippled. There was no compassion, professionalism, or concern for their job.
Only, actions based on the apparent police report that I was in some way an
undesirable causing problems.
I pulled the neck brace off, and they started belittling me, and threatening me
with various medical things. But, the brace was digging into my right shoulder,
which I had been laying on, and causing me more pain than anything else at that
As I was put into the ambulance, I was disoriented, in pain, and complete
terrified that I would never arrive at the hospital. I tried to call 911 again,
for a supervisor, but they took my phone and hung up on me.
From how I was being handled, I figured I was going to end up on the side of the
road, or in the river. And I'm not being dramatic. I am still having
flashbacks and night terrors over this. It was the most frightening thing I've
had done to me, and I've been in some pretty bad spots before.
The EMT was belligerent, nasty, mean and threatening.
He cut my jacket, on purpose, for no reason. After that, he then said he wasn't
going to do anything to me, but I had already refused anything from them. I was
not going to let them torture me more than they had, and I still did not believe
I was going to survive this ride. I still don't believe I did.
He was belligerent, and he threatened to "dump me off" more than once. I
remember telling him I was a doctor, and what he was doing was wrong. He
laughed at me. He patronizingly tried to tell me how there were different ways
lift an injured person. None of them, though, involve dragging them the long
way across a board, unless absolutely necessary, like pulling them from out of a
car, or drain pipe. I was long-way along a wall, and should have been lifted,
sideways, onto the board, not carried.
But, again, it was to "teach me a lesson" and to cause me as much pain as
possible, not to try to take care of me, or treat my injuries.
At the ER, they did their best to bump the gurney, telling me how careful they
In the cold air, and from the stress, my mouth started filling up with fluids.
I didn't know if it was mucous or blood and I could not breathe. I was afraid
of aspirating, and could barely get any air in. Only when the gurney bumped, or
I could turn my head, did I get some air. I tried to get up, telling them I
couldn't breathe, and I was drowning, and they refused to listen. I grabbed the
shoulder of the guy on my right to pull myself up, and get the fluid out, and
all I see is him turning his head away saying "He's grabbing me" and then
turning back, bending his arm over double, and smashing his forearm and elbow
into my neck.
I don't remember much after that, until I was moved to the bed, and all I heard
were voices planning nasty things, about restraint, or jumping me, or I can't
remember, but I do remember being dumped, literally, on the bed face down, and
finally being able to breathe, despite the increased pain of my back being bent
backwards, and waiting for the "death blow" as I figured it would come.
At that point, an ER physician, I don't know who, came over, and literally told
them to stop it and get out. I'm not sure what he aborted, or stopped, but it
probably saved me from being crippled, or at least put through severe pain
While the torture and torment finally stopped, no one ever really asked me what
was wrong, took a history, or did a full exam. I don't think any blood work was
done, and I'm 43, over weight, and my heart rate was over 130.
I know that over the next hour, a few people tried to make me a little
comfortable, but no pain relief was offered, and it was only slowly easing off.
Any little movement sent the pain back up, and I had to shift position every few
minutes, because my muscles cramped, which caused more spasm.
I was also losing sensation in my feet and toes, which no one seemed to take
In the interim 4 or 5 weeks, this has continued, and I may end up needing the
surgery I had hoped to permanently avoid. I'm losing sensation, and feeling in
my lower extremities, and getting numbness and tingling more and more often.
Prior to this event, I had little or none of those symptoms, with all problems
in my lower back and hip area.
This was the most horrifying night of my life.
I thought I was going to die, because I called 911, and asked for the police to
come help, since I had detained a robber.
Noone ever took my statement.
I had my wife call for a supervisor to meet me in the ER, and she did not take a
statement, or take my report seriously.
I have flashbacks every time I see a police car, or policeman, or hear a siren.
I don't sleep well, and last night, I didn't sleep at all, reliving this over
I was treated as street trash, for no reason.
This officer precipitated a series of events that caused me great physical pain
and harm, and were totally outside his rights to do so.
Now, to make it worse, he's summoned me accusing me of assaulting an officer
with intent to do harm, fighting, and public nuisance!
I tried to stop a robbery, and was beat up by the cops!
I didn't fight. If trying to detain a criminal, someone who robbed you, is a
crime, we are lost as a society! If that is considered fighting, or if being
shoved by a man in uniform with a gun backwards over a wall and left crumpled on
the ground is fighting, or causing a public nuisance, we are more lost as a
society than can be repaired.
Giant Eagle and their employees, and the locking carts, are to blame for
creating the environment for this incident to happen: eg the initial robbery and
snatch-grab scam. But the officer on the scene is responsible for how he
handled it, and for the actions that put me in the ER, and for his lack of
professionalism, and betrayal of the law and public trust.
His summons are an additional attempt to harass, and threaten, and abuse police
powers, as I was afraid would happen in my original newsletter post. I was
afraid then, and I'm afraid now.
I should not have to go through the expense and trouble of a lawyer and court
hearing to defend myself from his actions.
The events of the night in question dispute his claims on REASONABLE grounds,
and any rational person would realize this is just abuse of power, and further
damage caused by this individual.
I'm a retired physician, home owner, business owner, father to two adopted
girls, one special needs, and have been in the Squirrel Hill area for over 15
years, living there almost 10. I'm not street trash, not on drugs, and didn't
start any fights. I was robbed, a victim of a crime, and I called 911. I ended
up in the ER, and maybe needing major surgery BECAUSE I called 911, and the
police showed up.
No one ever took my robbery statement, which I thought needed to be done after a
911 call. No one ever asked me if I wanted to press charges against the Giant
Eagle manager for jumping me. And of course, no one could arrest or question
the real criminals, the robbers since they were set free to run off.
Robert S. Pataki, MD
President, PUGDOG Enterprises, Inc.
PUGDOG's Rock & Bead Shop
Pittsburgh, PA 15217