DA: Pellet gun wielded in fatal standoff looked real
District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. on Thursday did not clear a sheriff's deputy who shot an East Liberty man but said a pellet gun the man held looked real.
“I'm not saying that yet, but it looks as if the deputy did what he was trained to do,” Zappala said. “(The gun) looked real to me. It's about the exact type of weapon (an officer) was carrying today.”
Odell Brown, 19, died from a single shot fired by Deputy Sean Green in a 90-minute standoff on June 13 outside his home. Zappala, who walked through the North Euclid Avenue shooting scene with Pittsburgh homicide detectives and detectives from his office, said he continues to investigate.
Police said that Brown refused repeated requests to drop a gun and that Green fired when Brown pointed the gun at him.
Brown's mother, Andrea Stevens, 41, said she knew her son had a pellet gun and told her mother, Joyce Stevens, 58, who was in the house while Brown paced outside. Both women have questioned why police didn't ask them for information about Brown during the standoff.
Zappala said even if someone had relayed that information to police, officers couldn't have taken a chance and relied on it.
The Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP sent a letter to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald seeking an independent investigation.
The NAACP criticized the police actions, issuing a statement after the shooting asking why no one told police about the pellet gun and questioning whether they took every measure to spare Brown's life.
NAACP First Vice President Constance Parker said the group wrote to Ravenstahl and Fitzgerald to look into the matter and the policies and procedures police follow in those situations. Parker said she believes police thought Brown had a real gun.
“We call the police to protect us and we appreciate that,” Parker said. “I can believe (police thought he had a real gun). I don't question that. But what could have been done further to save his life? Maybe different decisions could have been made. It could have been done differently.”Amie Downs, Fitzgerald's spokeswoman, said he would defer questions to Zappala.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Total Trib Media. He can be reached at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Transportation challenges rife as Pittsburgh focuses on making fixes
- Lawsuit: Pittsburgh Public Schools should have known officer was abusing boys
- Montour Trail gets needed updates
- Transportation funding uncertainty impacts planning for Western Pa.
- Newsmaker: Derek Wesley
- Development could soon be booming in West End
- 2 from Carrick charged in connection with rash of heroin overdoses
- Heroin overdoses kill two in Pittsburgh area; others revived with Narcan
- Heinz Endowments looks to smart urban planning for Pittsburgh moment
- Teachers union advises lawyers for colleagues of Plum pair investigated on sex charges
- Police confiscated cellphone of driver who struck 7-year-old girl Thursday