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Farrell officials to look into fight on their own



Published: Tue, February 5, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



There were accusations that Sharon police used too much force and directed it only at Farrell students.

FARRELL, Pa. -- Farrell city officials plan to conduct their own investigation into the brawl at Saturday's Farrell-Sharon basketball game.

City council, urged on by a handful of parents and grandparents of Farrell students Monday, directed their city manager and city solicitor to meet with Southwest Mercer County Regional Police, who were called to the scene.

The probe comes amid contentions by the parents and grandparents that police in Sharon acted with too much force and acted only against Farrell students.

"It's my opinion we, as a community, should investigate a little more than they [Sharon officials] have investigated so far," said Councilman Lou Falconi, who is a teacher and head football coach at Farrell.

Falconi said that he wasn't at the game but that numerous students in school Monday said they tried to protest their innocence of any involvement in the fight but were sprayed with a chemical.

Farrell school officials have launched an investigation, asking students who were at the game to write down everything that happened, Falconi said.

Parents' protests: Jacqueline Kellar of Hamilton Avenue told council her 17-year-old daughter was sprayed, kicked and struck with a police baton, but had no involvement in the fight.

Kellar, who wasn't at the game, said that she called Sharon police Monday to protest the treatment but that she didn't get any satisfaction.

Parents who went to the school to try to retrieve their children were also threatened with arrest, Kellar said.

Elizabeth Anderson of Hamilton Avenue said her daughter was in a restroom trying to help a friend but when she walked out the door, a Sharon police officer sprayed her in the eyes.

"They're making it look like the kids started it," she said, accusing the police of using too much force.

Children who were sprayed were not offered any medical treatment by Sharon authorities, she said.

A different view: "I don't think the police overreacted at all," said Sharon Superintendent Richard Rossi.

Rossi said he has seen video of what happened and felt police acted appropriately.

He didn't know if any Sharon students had been sprayed or injured, but said everything broke loose when a man in the bleachers, identified as Jesse J. Wilson of Sharon, a Farrell graduate, struck a police officer.

Kellar said she was told Wilson was holding a young child in his lap and was trying to protect the child from the chemical spray.




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