June 28--A federal judge Wednesday denied a motion by attorneys representing a Pennsylvania state trooper and a Pittsburgh police sergeant to decide on pleadings alone a lawsuit against them stemming from the 2009 shooting death of Nicholas Haniotakis on the South Side.
U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti said the allegations of Mr. Haniotakis' family and estate against Pennsylvania state Trooper Samuel Nassan and Pittsburgh police Sgt. Terrence Donnelly are substantive enough to overcome the defense's arguments "at this stage." She noted that "the defendants can raise those defenses again if discovery does not produce evidence to support the plaintiffs' allegations."
She added that she isn't expressing any opinion on the strength of the evidence produced so far.
Judgment on the pleadings would have ended the case short of a jury trial.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. cleared Trooper Nassan and Sgt. Donnelly of any criminal wrongdoing in connection with Mr. Haniotakis' death.
The lawsuit claims they improperly "seized" and assaulted Mr. Haniotakis by shooting him and that they were improperly trained and supervised.
Mr. Haniotakis, 33, was shot after he nearly broadsided a police car, drove off, and then tried to run the officers down, the defense has said.
Attorneys for each side could not be immediately reached for comment.
Rich Lord: [email protected] or 412-263-1542.
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