The altercation happened at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, following the Steelers’ 30-12 home victory over the Dolphins in the opening round of the NFL playoffs.
According to a criminal complaint, officer Paul Abel was working security at another nearby bar when he was told by an off-duty officer that the doorman at The Flats on Carson Street was being threatened by a Steeler.
Abel said he arrived to find the doorman refusing to let Porter — who appeared to be intoxicated — into the club.
“Last time you were here, you threatened to kill me,” Abel overheard the doorman saying to Porter. “You need to leave. You are not getting in.” Police didn’t immediately explain the context of the remark, but online court records don’t show any charges relating to such an incident.
Abel, the 5-foot-6, 145-pound officer who filed the complaint, said Porter, 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds, ignored him when he asked what was going on and grabbed him by the arms and lifted him off the ground. The doorman, described as 6-foot and 195 pounds, wasn’t aggressive with Porter and had his hands in his pockets, according to the complaint.
Abel said he pulled Porter away from the doorman, according to the complaint. That’s when Porter grabbed the officer’s wrists “so tightly that I could not pull them away from him, no matter how hard I tried,” the officers said in the complaint.
Porter backed away but then refused to put his hands behind his back.
Porter eventually allowed himself to be handcuffed but yelled, “You’re lying, I never touched you,” as Abel arrested him, the complaint said.
Porter was charged with aggravated assault on the officer, simple assault on the doorman, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, defiant trespass and public drunkenness. Physical contact with a police officer is automatically charged as aggravated assault in Pennsylvania, even if the nature of the alleged conduct would constitute simple assault against a regular citizen.
Online court records don’t list an attorney for Porter, who posted $25,000 bond and faces a preliminary hearing Jan. 19 in Pittsburgh City Court.
The Steelers said in a statement that they were aware of the incident and were gathering additional information.
Porter, the Steelers’ outside linebackers coach, spent 13 seasons as a linebacker with Pittsburgh, Miami and Arizona. He went to the Pro Bowl four times, three with the Steelers, while playing there from 1999 to 2006, and once with Miami. He also starred on the Steelers’ 2006 Super Bowl team.
The Steelers face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday in the divisional round of the playoffs.
This story has been corrected to show that police now say Porter is charged with disorderly conduct, not terroristic threats, among other charges.