Carole Wiedmann is being arrested a second time ... for the alleged crime of letting a police dog try to bite her in the ass.
Wiedmann, of Ohio Township, was arrested on a failure-to-disperse charge last Aug. 20 during a counter-recruitment protest in front of the Armed Forces Career Center on Forbes Ave. in Oakland. Pittsburgh Police had already stun-gunned and pepper-sprayed other protestors, and although half the crowd had dispersed, Wiedmann was at the back of the slow-moving remainder. The dog, led by Pittsburgh K-9 Officer Christian Sciulli, ripped her trousers at the back of her upper left thigh but didn't break her skin.
Wiedmann was then arrested, but District Magistrate Cathleen Cawood Bubash dismissed Wiedmann's charge at a Dec. 7 hearing. So Wiedmann figured there must be some mistake when, on April 21, she went to her post office to retrieve another certified letter from Pittsburgh Police. Except for the fact that it was addressed to Carole Wierdmann, it was identical to the first arrest documents she possessed.
"When I opened it up and saw like déjí vu the exact same papers I had seen before, you think that this is some sort of mistake," Wiedmann says. "I couldn't imagine why that would happen. I'm thinking, is this for me?"
Now Wiedmann has a new date to be fingerprinted and a new hearing, set for May 30.
Pittsburgh Police spokesperson Tammy Ewin, first contacted on April 27, did not know by City Paper press time on May 1 why the charges had been reinstated, and Wiedmann's lawyer, Mike Healey, is as puzzled as his client.
"I do not think they can do that," he says. "And it raises a whole host of First Amendment issues."
Police can re-arrest someone whose charges were dismissed if there is new evidence, or if they file a motion alleging a mistake in the original hearing, but such procedures are relatively rare, Healey says. He works for the Downtown firm of Healey and Hornack and with the National Lawyers Guild, often representing local activists after protest arrests. He says a second arrest following dismissed charges has happened to a client of his only once, 20 years ago ... and that was in a homicide case.
Healey speculates that the repeat arrest is "at some level" a reaction to the lawsuit he will soon file in federal court against the city, the police department and possibly individual officers. The suit will allege police used excessive force in their reaction to the Aug. 20 protest, in which six people were arrested or cited. Wiedmann will be a plaintiff, along with one of the stun-gunned protestors and two children hit by pepper spray.
Healey says the re-arrest will simply give more ammunition for their side of the suit.
"Is she being re-arrested because of her political activities?" he asks. "Is she being re-arrested because of her association with other protestors?"
Wiedmann says she can't get an official explanation for her arrest either, and it has sent her blood pressure, for which she is being monitored, heading upward.
"To have this go into the second round ... it's more intimidating," she says. "Even though I'm not going to back down."