Pittsburgh public safety chief joins review of 911 call, murder-suicide
Pittsburgh's top public safety official said Tuesday he is looking into how police responded to the 911 call a woman made from her home a day before investigators found her fatally shot there.
“This is a very serious matter, and it needs time and due diligence,” Public Safety Director Michael Huss said. “You can't shoot from the hip. There's an administrative investigation going on. I will be involved in that.”
Police are investigating whether two officers followed procedure on Dec. 31 when they answered the call for help from Ka'Sandra Wade, 33, in her Larimer home. Officers Louis Schweitzer and Lance Hoyson left after speaking to a man, through a window, who said everything was fine and refused to let them in.
The next day, police found Wade fatally shot inside the Lowell Street home after her family came to the station in Highland Park with concerns for her safety. During a standoff with police Jan. 2, her boyfriend, Anthony L. Brown, 51, briefly opened a door at his Point Breeze apartment and tossed a note to officers admitting to killing Wade and saying they could have done more to save her. Police believe Brown was the man at the window on Lowell Street. He killed himself during the standoff.
Wade's mother, Sharon Jordan of Aliquippa, said she's looking for an attorney to explore a possible lawsuit against the city.
Huss said he had not heard 911 recordings from the incident. He plans to listen to them and review other information. Police interviewed Schweitzer and Hoyson last week with a lawyer from the Fraternal Order of Police.
“We will look at the totality of what happened there and what went on,” Huss said. “We'll make what changes are necessary, and we need to look at everything.”
A request for comment from police Chief Nate Harper left with spokeswoman Diane Richard was not returned. Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said he is reviewing the incident, as is the Citizen Police Review Board.
Sgt. Michael LaPorte, president of FOP Fort Pitt lodge No. 1, said the officers acted appropriately.
“We can't, by law, force our way in.” LaPorte said.
Pittsburgh police do not have a specific procedure for dealing with such calls.
Best practice would require the officers to speak with the original caller, said Thomas Aveni, executive director of the Police Policy Studies Council in New Hampshire, a police training organization.
“What they're duty-bound to do is show up and talk to the person who admits to placing the 911 call and have them verify that nothing is wrong,” Aveni said. “If you have a female requesting a police response, and then a male is the only one you can talk to, that's a red flag.”
Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or firstname.lastname@example.org.