Pittsburgh police Sgt. Stephen Matakovich was working off-duty as a security guard at a local football game when he was caught on surveillance video (below) beating 19-year-old Gabriel Despree outside Heinz Field on Nov. 28, 2015.
Matakovich was charged with simple assault and official oppression, but on Feb. 1 the charges were dismissed by District Judge Robert Ravenstahl, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Ravenstahl said the fan was the aggressor, according to CBS Pittsburgh.
In the video, which does not include audio, Matakovich pushes the teen, knocking him off his feet. As Despree tries to stand up, Matakovich punches him. Despree then stands up and appears to be trying to defend himself when Matakovich strikes him several more times.
Despree was charged with public drunkenness, aggravated assault and other crimes.
He admitted to being intoxicated and not leaving after he was denied entry into the stadium, but he maintained that he did not threaten Matakovich.
Matakovich's defense attorney, Blaine Jones, said Despree put his hands in and out of his pockets several times and clenched his fist right before Matakovich pushed him to the ground.
“The use of force was not reasonable,” Pittsburgh police use-of-force instructor David Wright said in court, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“Primarily, based on the body language [of Despree] I’m viewing, I don’t see a very aggressive stance,” Wright said.
“As I watch the video, I see no resistance," he added. "I don’t see resistance. Without resistance, there should be no force.”
Matakovich said in court that he was trying to subdue Despree in order to cuff him.
Ravenstahl said both Matakovich and Despree did some things that night they probably regret. The judge then dismissed the charges against Matakovich.
Police in the courtroom cheered in response to the decision.
“We are very pleased with District Judge [Ravenstahl's] decision this afternoon to dismiss all charges filed against Sgt. Steve Matakovich," Officer Howard McQuillan, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1, said in a statement. "As we have said early on in the investigation this should have been handled through the Chiefs Office as a discipline issue rather than through the courts. This will be yet another potential obstruction between the administration and the rank and file as we struggle to improve morale."