Video has surfaced of a Cubs fan being body-slammed at PNC Park during the Chicago Cubs’ October 7 victory over the Pirates. The man was wearing a goat costume. The mayor of Pittsburgh has called for an investigation into police brutality over the incident.
Chicago Cubs fan Dimitri Mitalas arrived at the ballpark decked out in a Cubs jacket and a goat hat in honor of the great superstition that has had the Cubs cursed for 60 years. The Washington Post gave a detailed explanation of The Curse of the Billy Goat.
Many Cubs fans are in the process of having a good time and celebrating the success of a winning team. The Chicago Cubs haven’t been in the postseason since the 2008 season. The wild-card game at PNC Park against the Pirates was an occasion to let loose and revel with fans who love the game of baseball. Instead, Dimitri was met with hostility.
Witnesses say the Cubs fans were behaving like normal fans cheering on their team. Mitalas claims he was hit with a cup of spit and chewing tobacco. After heated words had been exchanged in the stands, ushers asked Mitalas to leave. Pirates’ fans told the ushers that he didn’t start the confrontation.
After Dimitri was on the stadium concourse and attempted to question a Pittsburgh officer about what happened, he says the officer went nuts. The encounter takes a turn for the worse and the officer body-slams him to the concrete. The avid Cubs fan gave the website Sports Mockery a detailed account of what happened to him at the wild-card game.
The video, uploaded to YouTube Saturday, appears to show an officer telling Dimitri to leave. The Cubs fan asks, “Can I talk to you,” and the officer puts an arm around him and begins to walk him away. He yells, “Stop it,” and attempts to push the officer’s arm away.
Someone then appears to grab at the device recording the incident, and someone yells “Put the phone down.” Then, the video shifts to another angle and the Pittsburgh officer is seen picking up the Cubs fan and body-slamming him to the ground.
Pittsburgh Police Spokesperson Sonya said that Mayor Bill Peduto asked the city’s Office of Municipal Investigations, which conducts reviews of employee behavior, to look into the video.
“This was just brought to our attention,” she said. “We must investigate before anything is determined.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday, after ordering the investigation, that the situation doesn’t make the officer look good.
“Videos never look good. But that does not warrant judgment. What warrants judgment is the investigation itself.”
“It certainly appears that officer escalated that entire situation. It sounds like the kid just said,’Can I talk to you?’ and that’s all it took. Escalated like a rocket,” said Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the city’s Citizen Police Review Board.
“The kid’s already in a very secure hold because you can hear him kind of complain. And the officer’s response was, ‘Or what?’ as if the kid was threatening him. But clearly the kid wasn’t going to do anything. Then the officer just slams him. Why? He presented no apparent threat,” Ms. Pittinger said.
Howard McQuillan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1, was unaware of the incident until contacted by a reporter. After watching the video, Officer McQuillan noted that the video captured only a portion of the encounter. He felt that if the Cubs fan had obeyed the officer’s orders and walked out of the stadium, there wouldn’t have been an incident.
Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Sonya Toler refused to name the officer who slammed the Cubs fan, but sources identified him as Kyle Nelson, a four-year veteran stationed in Zone 2 of the Hill District.
[Feature photo by Jared Wickerham / Getty Images, video via YouTube]