Darian Balcom is the Pittsburgh woman who is suing the city because, she says, a police officer arrested her for not being a supporter of President Trump back in 2017. Balcom says she was saving stray animals from an abandoned building in Brighton Heights when the police showed up, responding to a burglary call. Balcom said Officer Gabe Figueroa called her “sweetheart” and, when she objected, said, ‘You probably don’t support Trump do you? ‘No I don’t,'” Balcom said. Then he arrested her.
Here’s what you need to know about Darian Balcom:
1. She Was Charged with Burglary & Trespassing, but Those Charges were Dropped
Darian Balcom was arrested after police responded to a burglary call on Fleming Avenue in the Brighton Heights section of Pittsburgh. She says that she wasn’t committing burglary at all, but rescuing stray animals from an abandoned house. Police arrested Balcom and charged her with burglary and trespassing, but the charges were dropped.
Balcom says that the real reason she was arrested was that she disagreed with the arresting officer’s political opinions. She says that he asked her whether she supported President Trump and that he arrested her after she said no. Balcom was accompanied by a man named Matthew Grebner, who says that Officer Gabe Figueroa, the arresting officer, seemed very focused on Balcom’s attitude, rather than on her actions. “She’s a bleeding heart liberal but you can’t sass at the police,” Grebner recalled Figueroa as saying.
Balcom is now suing the city of Pitssburgh over the arrest. Her lawyer, Margaret Coleman, says she wants to use the case to “send a message” about political liberty. “She disagreed with the political beliefs of a police officer and she refused to say she supported Donald trump, and that can’t happen in America. And we want to send a message,” Coleman said.
2. Balcom Is a Landlord in Pittsburgh & Says a Friend Gave Her Permission to Enter the House in Brighton Heights
Balcom is a landlord in Pittsburgh. She says that she was not trespassing or committing burglary when she went to a house in Brighton Heights to remove stray animals. In fact, Balcom says, a friend of hers asked her to rescue the animals as a favor. But police say they received a call alerting them that someone was committing burglary at the location.
Balcom says that when Officer Gabe Figueroa arrived at the scene, he acted condescending towards her andcalled her “sweetheart.” When she objected, she says, he asked her whether she was a Trump supporter. When she said that she wasn’t, he arrested her. Balcom was charged with burglary and trespassing but the charges were later dropped. She is suing the city of Pittsburgh for violating her constitutional rights during the arrest.
Balcom works as a property manager for Figgie Development Company and also is a self employed real estate developer and property manager.
3. Balcom Says She Filed the Lawsuit in Honor of Her Uncle, an Air Force Colonel Who Disappeared Fighting in Vietnam
Balcom says that she filed a lawsuit against the city of Pittsburgh because she wants to do her part to fight against tyranny and oppression. She said that her arrest was a “threat” to freedom and to democracy, and that it could potentially damage the entire country. Balcom said that she had filed the lawsuit as a way to honor her uncle, an Air Force colonel who disappeared while fighting in Vietnam.
“These officers’ actions constitute a threat to freedom and democracy which harmed not only me, but our entire country,” she said. “It is my duty as an American to file this lawsuit and I am filing it in honor of my uncle, US Air Force Colonel Ralph Balcom, who disappeared on May 15, 1966 fighting against the tyranny and oppression these officers’ actions represent.”
Col. Ralph Balcom was declared Missing in Action in 1966 after his plane was shot down in North Vietnam.
4. Balcom Has Been in Other Disputes with the City of Pittsburgh
Balcom has hired lawyers to fight the City of Pittsburgh before. In 2014, Balcom bid on a city-owned condemned property on Woessner Street, in the Spring Hill section of Pittsburgh. She was approved to buy the house for $2,900. But before the sale went through, she says, the city arranged to have the house, built in 1905, demolished.
Balcom hired a lawyer after the City of Pittsburgh refused to promise not to raze the house. “I find it absolutely unbelievable that this is how they operate,” she said, pointing out that she didn’t want to buy a vacant lot; she wanted to buy a house.
5. Balcom Used to Work as a Legal Secretary in Washington, DC
Balcom’s LinkedIn page says that she spent years working as a legal support staffer for law firms in Washington, DC. There, she says, she was part of a paralegal team. She says that she gathered experience in, and exposure to, “a variety of legal practice areas, including international trade (1 yr.), immigration, intellectual property, Federal Indian law (3 yrs.), white collar defense, commercial litigation (2-3 yrs.), and arbitration/mediation.”
Balcom has a Bachelor of Science from Rutgers University.