PITTSBURGH — On Thursday, at Pitt guard Ithiel Horton’s preliminary hearing, the judge announced that the case will be continued on January 19.
”We are extremely disappointed and frustrated,” Horton’s attorney Phil DiLucente told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “My client was simply exercising his constitutional rights of free speech, he was exercising his freedom of expression, albeit, one could argue with language that would offend some, however, that language did not arise to the level of a threat in any form whatsoever. The situation could have very easily been deescalated and instead was escalated.”
Horton was arrested on Nov. 6 and is facing charges of aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and public drunkenness after an alleged physical encounter with a police officer.
Police were called to the scene around 1 a.m., when Horton was in a dispute with a tow truck operator who was towing his vehicle on the South Side. Police then accused Horton of striking an officer in the face and causing his lip to bleed before fleeing the scene on foot.
”The reports that he hit a woman presumed to the criminal complaint are untrue,” DiLucente added. “The alleged male victim is an officer who had his lip allegedly cut.”
”Just because someone expressed their freedom of speech rights in perhaps a derogatory manner, does not permit officers to attempt to arrest someone when that is the initiation of the arrest,” he continued. “There was no threatening language.”
Horton’s attorney plead for the earliest date possible, stating multiple times that Horton was a scholarship athlete and a student at Pitt, and that due to this continuance he would miss more games.
“We are frustrated today because he is sickened because of these charges.” DiLucente continued. “He is disappointed that he can’t be with his team and the earliest we’re able to have a date scheduled is January 19th. But with that said, we will be prepared to go forward due to the fact that in my 20-year career, less than a handful of times I can remember that an offer to have this matter resolved when a male officer is the alleged victim cannot be resolved.”
”I wanted to have it next week if possible so that we could get this young man who is a very nice, good family man back on the court to support his teammates. But more importantly than that, this also is hanging over his head and could potentially affect his studies.”
The January hearing will be held on Jan. 19 at 1 p.m.