Thursday, September 26, 2019

‘My Clients Are Not Racists’: Attorney Says Confrontation Over Spilled Gas ‘Got Majorly Out Of Hand’
Allegheny Co. DA’s Office Releases Surveillance Video From Inside Gas Station

By Lindsay Ward
CBS News
September 26, 2019 at 1:14 pm

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The attorney for the men charged in last weekend’s gas station confrontation that went viral says his clients are not racist.

Attorney David Shrager, who represents the two gas station employees charged, calls the incident that was caught on camera “a dispute over $17 that got majorly out of hand.”

His clients, Balkar Singh and Sukhjinder Sadhra, work at the Exxon station on Brighton Road in the city’s Marshall-Shadeland.

Police say, on Friday night, what started as a verbal confrontation over gasoline spilled outside and escalated into a physical altercation.

Cell phone video shows three men continually attacking two female customers in the parking lot.

At Shrager’s news conference, he said his clients are employees of the gas station and do not own it. He said they’ve been suspended pending the outcome of the case.

The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office has charged all three men with simple assault.

“My clients are not racists, they are not racist people. I’ve spoken to them at length, they love that community; they are part of that community. They had no racial animus towards these people,” said Shrager. “Both of my clients know what it’s like to be victims of prejudice. Both my clients know what it feels like to be a minority in the country.”

People have protested outside of the gas station for the last several days. Shrager says his clients have received death threats.

“Clearly, this was a dispute over $17 that got majorly out of hand. It’s a sad situation none of these people needed to be in this situation and I really ask all of us to use cooler heads,” Shrager added.

Later on Thursday, LGP Realty Holdings said they are terminating the lease of the gas station.

Surveillance video released Thursday by the District Attorney’s Office shows what happened inside the gas station before the brawl ended up outside.

It shows one of the women pushing items off a shelf and knocking over a display.

The women went inside the gas station demanding a refund after they say the pump malfunctioned and gas spilled.

While protesters are calling for more severe charges, Zappala disagreed.

“The evidence, based on what I saw, doesn’t support aggravated assault,” Zappala said. “Aggravated assault, there’s a much higher standard and it’s almost the equivalent of third-degree murder. The police interviewed the ladies that were involved and they said, basically, ‘we’re fine.’”

Zappala says ultimately a jury will decide.

“There’s a distinction between the prosecutor, the judge and the jury. Ultimately, a jury is going to make a determination of whether or not this was, in fact, a crime,” he said.

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