Bus-station smoker tussles with police, jailed

Pittsburgh Post Gazette, PA
Jan 18 2007

Bus-station smoker tussles with police, jailed
Thursday, January 18, 2007

By Torsten Ove, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An Armenian national who apparently didn’t think much of anti-smoking
laws blew cigarette smoke at a Pittsburgh police officer and ended up
on the receiving end of a stun gun, arrested and jailed after a
scuffle at the Greyhound bus terminal over the weekend.

Officer Walter Carlson said Suren Chukhadzhyan, 50, who stands about
6 feet 5 inches and weighs about 250 pounds, ignored his commands to
stop smoking, leading to a fight that knocked over seats and sent
other travelers scrambling.

An employee complained that a man was standing and smoking on a
wooden ramp at the Second Avenue terminal, which is designated as a
no-smoking area and marked with signs that say so.

Officer Carlson responded and told Mr. Chukhadzhyan to move to a
designated smoking area, according to a report.

"The actor ignored me and made a cocky smirk to me and was very
arrogant," the officer said. "[He] turned away from me and continued
to smoke."

When the officer ordered the man to turn around, he did, but blew
smoke in the direction of the officer.

Officer Carlson then grabbed the man’s arm and said he would be
cited, but he said Mr. Chukhadzhyan flicked his cigarette to the
ground and walked away.

Inside the terminal, the officer said, Mr. Chukhadzhyan sat down but
"became agitated and clenched his fists and began to speak to himself
in what appeared to be Russian."

Officer Carlson again attempted to issue the citation, but said Mr.
Chukhadzhyan stood up suddenly and approached him aggressively. The
officer said he pulled out his Taser and warned, "This doesn’t have
to go this way."

But he said Mr. Chukhadzhyan said "arrest me" and shoved him. The
officer tried to stun him with the Taser, but the prongs didn’t
penetrate the man’s thick coat.

Mr. Chukhadzhyan charged.

A nearby off-duty police officer for the Duquesne School District,
Chad Stevens, saw what was happening, pulled his badge, identified
himself as a police officer and joined the fray. The two officers
fought with Mr. Chukhadzhyan, eventually pinning his arms and
managing to cuff him after forcing him against a vending machine.

"He was real big," said Officer Stevens, who had been on his way with
his wife to Flint, Mich., to visit a sick relative. "When I tried to
put the cuffs on him the first time, I couldn’t get them around his
wrist. Both of us had an arm and we tired him out a little, but when
he wanted to move us, he did."

Even after the cuffs were in place, Officer Carlson said, he refused
to get on the floor, so they tripped him to get him down.

Mr. Chukhadzhyan, who lives in Glendale, Calif., was charged with
disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and aggravated assault on
Officer Carlson.

He was taken to the Allegheny County Jail. Police also contacted the
Armenian Consulate in Washington, D.C., and notified the Joint
Terrorism Task Force.

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