The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

January 11, 2013

State in brief: Officer disciplined in stun gun incident

MILLVALE — A police officer who used a stun gun on a handcuffed man has been disciplined, and a video of the incident has prompted a civil rights review by the district attorney’s office and the FBI, according to the attorney for Millvale Borough, where the officer works.

Millvale Solicitor Jack Cambest said the officer was not fired or suspended, but has received additional training as part of her otherwise unspecified discipline, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Friday.

The FBI and Allegheny County prosecutors became involved after someone provided a 52-second video of the incident to the attorney for Thomas Jason Smith, 27, this week. Smith was hit with the stun gun after his arrest for public drunkenness and other charges in September.

The video shows a shirtless Smith sitting on the floor while he bangs his head on the edge of an office cubicle when the officer shoots him with the stun gun. Smith is not seen attacking the officer, though she had reported in a criminal complaint that he was shot with the stun gun to subdue him when he became violent.

The video also shows some unspecified emergency responders smiling and laughing at Smith’s behavior.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. has said he will reserve comment on his review of the incident until he determines whether the video was edited, and whether other information surfaces to either support or contradict the officer’s account.

FBI spokeswoman Kelly Kochamba said that agency is reviewing the matter with the DA to determine if there were civil rights violations and whether a more detailed investigation is warranted.

Federal inmate dies in fight at prison

SCRANTON – A federal inmate in northeastern Pennsylvania has died after a fight with another prisoner.

Prison spokeswoman Kim Straesser said 29-year-old Ephraim Goitom was pronounced dead at a hospital Friday morning about an hour after the fight at the federal penitentiary in Canaan Township, Wayne County.

The Times-Tribune of Scranton reported that staff responded to the fight and separated the inmates. The other prisoner was treated for minor injuries. His name wasn’t released.

The FBI is investigating.

Goitom was serving a 25-year prison sentence on drug and weapons charges. He pleaded guilty last year to shooting a police officer during a 2010 raid at his apartment in Stamford, Conn.

The officer recovered.

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