BY MICHAEL DIVITTORIO
Clairton officials approved a consent-to-settle offer at Tuesday night’s meeting in the case of Robert Ruffing
vs. the city and its insurance provider National Casualty Co.
Council also authorized city manager Howard Bednar to execute any and all necessary forms involving the claim
filed by the 77-year-old Clairton resident.
City solicitor J. Deron Gabriel declined to comment on the offer, noting all parties have not signed a settlement agreement.
The insurance claim stems from a traffic stop on Dec. 16, 2011, in which Ruffing was arrested for hindering apprehension of prosecution, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and fleeing or attempting to elude police officers.
After the incident, Ruffing’s attorney, John Zagari, said his client underwent emergency brain surgery in January 2012 as a result of head injuries sustained during his arrest.
The FBI and the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office reviewed the case, including the actions of Officer Jeff Nolte, and neither agency charged the patrolman.
According to the complaint written by Nolte, a traffic stop was initiated near Waddell and Miller avenues when he spotted a man in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by Ruffing. That man, identified as Wesley Neal, 55 at the time, of Clairton, was sought in connection with the assault of two people with a brick earlier that day.
Ruffing was ordered to exit the vehicle, swore at Nolte, moved his hands and “turned his body and swung his right elbow at (Nolte) towards (his) chest and head,” the complaint read.
Nolte reported Ruffing was placed into custody by “using an armbar,” and the officer said he “used the least force that I could in placing him on the ground, and placed him into handcuffs.”
Charges of fleeing or attempting to elude officers and hindering apprehension were dismissed at a preliminary hearing in May before Glassport Magisterial District Judge Armand A. Martin.
Ruffing is scheduled for a non-jury trial on the remaining charges on April 8 in Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Borkowski’s chambers.
• A $200 donation to the Clairton Athletic Champions Club for the high school baseball team.
• Taking a $75 full-page ad in the installation souvenir book for the installation of the Rev. Willie J. Thompson Jr. as the senior pastor of Morningstar Baptist Church.
• Changes to the police department policy manual regarding procedures for dealing with domestic violence cases.
• Authorizing the city’s participation and prorated cost sharing in the real estate appraisal of the U.S. Steel Clairton Works property by the firm of Barone, Murtha, Shonberg & Associates.
• Exoneration of Bednar for 2012 unpaid municipal real estate taxes in the amount of $315,389.37 and transfer of the collections to Keystone Municipal Collections.
Resident Kathy Ulmer urged city officials to do something about people who take their dogs to the parks and other parts of the city and do not clean up after them.
Mayor Rich Lattanzi said those individuals will be cited for the ordinance violation.
Bednar said people who see those incidents would be required to testify at a hearing if they want the pet owners to be held responsible.
Residents thanked Ulmer for her efforts in cleaning up litter.
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.