District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. has decided to drop criminal charges against a charter school teacher arrested while talking to another man outside a meeting held to discuss how to improve police/community relations.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dennis Henderson of the North Side, a teacher at the Manchester Academy Charter School, had attended a community meeting sponsored by the Community Empowerment Association in East Liberty on June 27. As he talked to a journalist outside the meeting, a police car driven by Officer Jonathan Gromek passed the two at a high rate of speed, prompting Henderson to make a comment about how fast the officer was traveling.
The officer turned around, came back and put handcuffs on both men. The journalist, Rossano Stewart, was released, but Henderson was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing a roadway. On July 4, community members rallied to have the charges dropped. On Tuesday, they got their wish.
Henderson was scheduled to appear in court tomorrow, but Zappala's decision rendered that hearing moot. In a statement released by Zappala's office he said:
I have reviewed the circumstances surrounding the matter to this point. It's clear that the encounter with police resulted in part from two individuals exercising their constitutional rights.
Having reviewed the significance of the allegations and without regard to potential prosecutorial merit, I have directed that the charges be withdrawn pending a complete review by the City of Pittsburgh Police Office of Municipal Investigations to determine any further action.