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Misdemeanor charges dismissed against two teens arrested following December Wood Street incident in Downtown Pittsburgh


When City Paper covered the ruckus that broke out around the Wood Street T station back in December 2015, attention was immediately paid to a video displaying the, some called angry, demeanor of a Pittsburgh Police officer who yelled at a CP reporter. (That incident is currently under investigation by the Citizens Police Review Board and the Pittsburgh Police Bureau’s internal investigation office.)

But the actual legal outcome of this event was that five teenage boys, all refugees from East Africa, were arrested on charges ranging from felony riot to misdemeanor trespass. Last month, charges against one of the boys were dropped, and today, the charges were dismissed against two more.

Salat Abdalla and Abdulkadir Abdi had their municipal court hearing this morning and after less than five minutes of deliberation with the judge and Port Authority Police arresting officer, their charges of criminal trespass were dismissed.

Abdalla and Abdi were arrested about 45 minutes after the ruckus started when another teenage boy allegedly pressed an escalator’s emergency-off button and then allegedly resisted arrest inside the T station. Abdalla and Abdi claim they arrived by bus from Squirrel Hill 30 minutes after the incident inside the T station and said they never even went inside.

Abdulkadir Abdi being taken across the street from his bus stop on the north side of Liberty Avenue. - PHOTO BY REBECCA NUTTALL
  • Photo by Rebecca Nuttall
  • Abdulkadir Abdi being taken across the street from his bus stop on the north side of Liberty Avenue.

Abdalla’s uncle and Abdi’s brother Siraji Hassan sat in on the hearing (CP was denied access because Abdalla and Abdi are minors). Hassan says that the arresting officer claimed that both Abdalla and Abdi were part of a large crowd that formed around the station.

And while hundreds did gather to witness the commotion in Downtown that afternoon, Abdalla and Abdi were arrested on the other side of Liberty Avenue at a bus stop about 45 minutes after the scuffle.

“We were going to cross examine, but it was all bull,” says Hassan.

Sam Hens-Greco, the lawyer representing Abdalla and Abdi, says he does not wish to comment since his clients are juveniles.

Haji Muzhimu, the 19-year-old adult arrested, is facing felony riot charges, as well as misdemeanors for resisting arrest and disorderly conduct among others. His hearing is scheduled for May. It is unclear if the boy who allegedly hit the emergency-off button has been sentenced.  

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