PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Police Officer Aaron Fetty has been off the job for nearly a year after being accused of raping a coworker.
But a judge has cleared the way for his return to the Pittsburgh Police Bureau, agreeing with an arbitrator that he should be reinstated. Judge Alan Hertzberg issued the order but did not explain his decision.
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A spokesperson for Mayor Ed Gainey expressed disappointment with the judge’s decision.
“The City is extremely disappointed in the judge’s ruling in Officer Fetty’s case. We believe that this ruling hamstrings the City’s mandate to comply with existing laws and ensure it provides its employees with a safe working environment. We will continue to examine and pursue available legal remedies. The City has real concerns about allowing an individual about whom Judge Mulligan, in a civil proceeding, stated committed a sexual assault to be permitted to patrol our streets and enforce the laws of the Commonwealth,” wrote Maria Montano, the Mayor’s spokesperson, in an email statement.
Fetty was initially suspended for three days and transferred.
County Police conducted an investigation and no charges were ever filed.
Disappointed with the outcome, the alleged victim sent an email to every officer on the force detailing what she claims happened to her and what she calls a slap on the wrist.
She then filed for a protection order against Fetty and a Judge granted that, ruling that there was evidence of a sexual assault.
The city then fired Fetty but the Police union appealed claiming he had already been disciplined.
An arbitrator agreed and ordered him reinstated, but the city appealed that to a Common Pleas Court Judge.
The police union has argued Fetty can’t be disciplined twice for the same incident.
Channel 11 spoke with the union president previously.
Earle: Were you surprised they appealed that?
Swartzwelder: 100%. They know what they did was take two bites out of the apple.
A judge this week sided with the arbitrator, clearing the way for Fetty’s return, and likely presenting even more challenges for the city, according to the executive director of the citizen police review board, who spoke previously about the ongoing case.
“I would certainly hope, that the situation is resolved in a manner that continues to protect the victim, and continues to protect the public,” said Pittinger.
Meanwhile, the President of the Pittsburgh Police Officers’ Union praised the court for recognizing due process.
“The Fraternal Order of Police thanks the Arbitrator and Court of Common Pleas for upholding Arbitration precedent as required by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Without judiciary oversight, police officers would be subjected to political prosecutions rather than Due Process of law. As the U.S. Supreme Court has stated Police Officers as citizens are NOT relegated to a watered-down version of their constitutional rights. The officer will be reinstated with full back pay and benefits. However, the city will continue to appeal this decision in all likelihood because it’s not the decision makers’ money, it’s the taxpayers’ money,“ wrote Swartzwelder in a statement to Channel 11.
The city could appeal the Judge’s decision to a higher court.
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