Expert: Baldwin officers faced tough decision in shooting incident
By Tom Fontaine
Published: Monday, Feb. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A criminal justice expert said a rush to secure the scene of a reported domestic disturbance likely contributed to the friendly-fire shooting of a Baldwin Borough police officer early Sunday.
“It sounds like they kind of rushed into this thing, and that created a crossfire situation,” said Joseph Giacalone, a former police detective who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.
“But as cops, we're trained to go toward things, and that's part of the problem. When everyone else is running right, we've got to go left,” Giacalone said.
Allegheny County police said a woman told 911 dispatchers that her boyfriend was distraught and carrying a loaded shotgun around the house that they share with their two children.
At the home, the man refused officers' repeated orders to show his hands, then tried to shut the door on the officers, police said. Baldwin Sgt. Ralph Miller and a fellow officer stopped the door from slamming shut and then shots rang out. Miller was struck at least once in the back.
Admitting that he might be “Monday morning quarterbacking,” Giacalone said that if officers had determined that no one's life was in immediate danger, they could have let the door close and negotiated with the man through the door or by phone.
Giacalone conceded that that's a tough call to make.
“It's one of those situations where you're damned if you do, and you're damned if you don't,” Giacalone said.
Ka'Sandra Wade, 33, of Larimer was shot to death by her boyfriend after she called 911 for help on New Year's Eve, police said. Responding officers left the home without speaking to Wade after Anthony L. Brown, 51, of Point Breeze told them that there was no problem and refused to let them in.
During a Jan. 2 standoff, Brown admitted killing Wade, then committed suicide, police said.
Friendly-fire shootings are rare. Four officers were accidentally shot and killed as a result of crossfire or other firearm accidents in 2011, according to the latest FBI data.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
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.
- Former PPG executive indicted in fatal N.H. crash
- Wilkinsburg woman, 24, dies in crash
- Trial begins in Steelers stabbing
- Landmark former school in Pittsburgh’s Hill District to incubate startups
- Democrats consider Pittsburgh for 2016 national convention
- Proposal to drill in West Deer and Frazer draws comments from both sides
- Post 9/11 veterans lend skills to community leadership course
- 4-car crash near Fox Chapel snarls Route 28 traffic
- Wuerl tells faithful all Catholics are responsible for schools
- Patients nationwide die waiting as 1 in 5 kidneys rejected by doctors
- Bullied South Fayette student’s case prompts wiretap overhaul legislation