Charleroi man accused of assaulting officers, K-9

June 12, 2014
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Curtis Pritchett
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Morgan Wallace

A Charleroi man is charged with assaulting two Charleroi Regional police officers and the department’s dog during a melee at the police station after being arrested for assaulting a woman.

Curtis Pritchett, 25, of 420 McKean Ave., and Morgan Wallace, 20, of 51 Boyka Drive, Finleyville, were initially taken into custody about noon Wednesday for allegedly assaulting each other and then resisting efforts by police to take them into custody.

Pritchett was arraigned Thursday afternoon before District Judge Larry Hopkins on additional charges for reportedly swinging a baseball bat and tossing a parking meter at two officers trying to place him in the cruiser to take him to jail. He also allegedly choked the police dog after it was twice turned loose on him as the officers struggled with him in the department’s garage.

Officer Michael Carcella was on patrol Wednesday when he saw a woman, later identified as Wallace, hit a man, later identified as Pritchett, in the face. Pritchett then reportedly hit Wallace.

Carcella stopped and placed Wallace under arrest, but she pulled away. Carcella took her to the ground and put her in handcuffs. Pritchett then approached the officer aggressively and was told to stay until backup arrived. Instead, he ran, police said.

As police were putting Wallace in the cruiser, Pritchett allegedly returned and ran toward the officer. Pritchett then struggled with Carcella as the officer tried to take him into custody.

When Pritchett took an aggressive stance, Carcella hit him in the face, police said. Lt. Michael Polinski helped take Pritchett into custody as Wallace tried to run.

As police tried to put Pritchett in the cruiser, he allegedly kicked Polinski in the face.

Carcella tried pulling Pritchett into the cruiser, and Pritchett allegedly kicked Polinski in the chest. Polinski used pepper spray to subdue Pritchett.

At the station, Pritchett was shackled to a bench. Police said he tried several times to run, causing his ankles to bleed, and at one point threatened to kill Polinski’s family.

Police took a handcuffed Pritchett to the garage of the police station to transport him to jail when K-9 Officer William Gardner heard screams. He said he saw Pritchett swinging a bat. When he wouldn’t let go of the bat, Gardner released his police dog. The dog grabbed Pritchett by the back of his sweatpants and pulled him to the ground.

Police said Pritchett stood back up, grabbed a parking meter and threw it, just missing Polinski and hitting Carcella in the shoulder. Pritchett then reportedly starting kicking and headbutting the officers.

Gardner again released the dog, which grabbed Pritchett’s right thigh and took him down. Pritchett then allegedly grabbed the dog’s nose and neck and began choking it. Officers said they tried to pull him off the dog and had to use what they described in court documents as “controlled punches” to get him away from the dog.

Pritchett was taken to Monongahela Valley Hospital for treatment before he was transported to the county jail. Both officers were also taken to the hospital for X-rays.

Pritchett was arraigned Wednesday before Hopkins on charges of simple assault, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, escape, aggravated assault and terroristic threats. He was placed in jail on $250,000 bond. On Thursday afternoon, Hopkins arraigned Pritchett by video on charges of illegally taunting a police animal, aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. Hopkins set an additional $250,000 bond.

Wallace was arraigned Wednesday on charges of simple assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. She was jailed on $150,000 bond.

A preliminary hearing for the pair is set for June 26.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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