- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Dash cam video from a police cruiser supports the claims of two brothers suing Pittsburgh and several police officers for excessive force, their attorney says.

The federal lawsuit filed by attorney Todd Hollis contends Will El, 23, and Beyshaud El, 20, were wrongly suspected of buying synthetic marijuana by police when one officer grabbed Will El by the neck and shoved him against the side of a building triggering a confrontation. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review first reported on the suit filed Tuesday.

Police have said the brothers started the fight, and a judge found both guilty of disorderly conduct and fined each $50 after reviewing the video. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. had previously dropped more serious aggravated assault charges against the men after reviewing the video of the July 2, 2013 confrontation.

“If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video is worth a million,” Hollis told WTAE-TV, which first broadcast a copy of the dash cam video Thursday.

It shows the vantage point of an officer who rolled up to the scene after the brothers had already been stopped by a police lieutenant who believed some green foil she saw in Beyshaud El’s hand that afternoon contained synthetic marijuana. Police suspected it had just been purchased at a nearby convenience store.

The foil was a package of menthol cigarettes.

Police claimed in their criminal complaint that the men resisted and that Will El, eventually, made a fist and a “punching motion” drawing the police response. The lawsuit contends, and Hollis says the video shows, that Will El had a cigarette in his hand and did no such thing.

“Clearly, when you have a cigarette in your hand, it’s pretty tough to ball up your fist,” Hollis said.

Instead, Will El stood up merely because he wasn’t suspected by police and wanted to leave, only to have an officer grab him by the throat and push him down, and when Beyshaud El intervened, he is hit with a stun gun, Hollis said.

Pittsburgh police aren’t commenting on the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.

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