Earlier this year, a district judge dismissed assault and official oppression charges against Sgt. Stephen Matakovich. Officer Matakovich, who is a 22-year veteran of the Pittsburgh Police Department, was caught on security camera assaulting a fan during the WPIAL football playoffs at Heinz Field last year.
Sgt. Matakovich was working as a private security guard at the stadium, meaning what he was doing was in no way connected to his normal police duties. However, that didn’t stop the violent officer from depriving a citizen of his civil rights, by beating the almost defenseless man.
Matakovich’ s attorney, Blaine Jones, said that “Matakovich wasn’t trying to hurt the young man, but merely wanted him to leave” and that “… based on Sgt. Matakovich’ s over two decades of experience, he wasn’t sure if there was a threat or not, so he was proactive in his actions.”
I can only imagine that in Sergeant. Matakovich’ s mind, being proactive in asking someone to leave, translates into beating the person until they are almost unconscious.
Once charges were formally dismissed at the state level, the FBI began reviewing the case to see if the out-of-control officer violated the civil rights on the victim. Luckily, a federal grand jury indicted Officer Matakovich this week on “willful deprivation of civil rights and falsification of records”. He is also facing charges at the county level for simple assault.
Matakovich faces up to 10 years in prison on the federal civil rights charge and up to 20 years for the records falsification charge, both felonies, if convicted.
Shockingly, the victim in this case, Gabriel Despres, 20, still faces a preliminary hearing in May on charges including defiant trespass. Who knew it was illegal to get assaulted by a cop?