Woman shot in South Side pursuit recovering
A Wilkinsburg woman who Pittsburgh police shot at the end of a South Side pursuit in January left intensive care but remains in recovery, enduring severe headaches at home as a bullet fragment lingers in her skull, her lawyer said Friday.
Lena Davenport, 49, “has made good progress in terms of being able to resume her daily life to some extent,” said Uptown-based lawyer J. Kerrington Lewis. He said Davenport can move around and take care of herself with help from her family.
But she still has general “cognitive problems” as the city fights a civil rights lawsuit filed on her behalf, Lewis said.
Davenport took a bullet in the head just before 2 a.m. Jan. 13, when her son Donald Burris Jr., 32, led police on a car chase that started in Homestead. She was his sole passenger.
Police said Burris ran a red light, fled an attempted traffic stop and led officers about five miles to East Carson Street. He smashed into parked cars before stopping in a hail of bullets near 13th Street.
The wayward Buick was a direct threat to pedestrians and officers as bars emptied for the night, city police said. They charged Burris with 15 counts including aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and fleeing police. He faces arraignment April 30. Burris was released on bail March 8.
Forthcoming evidence should explain Burris' actions, said defense attorney Anne Marie Mancuso. Police are expected to release footage from municipal traffic cameras by the end of the month.
“Any civilian or citizen in the same circumstances would have had the same concerns as Donald had that evening,” said Mancuso, who works in the Allegheny County Office of Conflict Counsel, which represents needy defendants when the public defender's office has a conflict. “I believe very passionately that his reasoning was totally substantiated by the facts.”
Acting Pittsburgh police Chief Regina McDonald would not comment because an investigation remains open, spokeswoman Diane Richard said Friday. Homestead Mayor Betty Esper said the borough council has yet to decide how it will respond to Davenport's civil litigation, which lists both municipalities as defendants.
“The law is the law. Why do people think they can just do what they want?” Esper said. “They almost killed people.”
Filed Feb. 15 in federal court, Davenport's lawsuit also names four Pittsburgh police officers and two Homestead officers. City attorneys this week filed a motion to dismiss the suit, writing among several rebuttals that the case lacks sufficient facts and that Davenport was not an intended target.
Lewis has argued that borough officers disregarded orders to terminate the pursuit, that city officers used too much force in opening fire and that both municipalities should have been better prepared to handle a car chase.
“It's a question of excessive force and firing weapons indiscriminately,” Lewis said, noting that one Pittsburgh officer fired on the wrong vehicle.
Two weeks after the shooting, then-city police Chief Nate Harper issued an order that prohibits officers from firing into a moving vehicle “unless there are shots being fired from that vehicle.”
Burris and Davenport were not armed.
Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 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.
- Point Park graduate’s ‘mugshot’ photos hit nerve on racism
- Pittsburgh’s HealthyRide system begins launch Sunday
- Inmate assaults Westmoreland County sheriff’s deputy at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital
- 11 vying to temporarily fill Danko’s vacant seat on Allegheny County Council
- Newsmaker: Ursula Payne
- Dormont man missing since Wednesday found dead at Station Square
- Medical examiner: Dormont man found near incline died of multiple injuries
- Homicide by vehicle trial of Munhall man Brezicky closes; verdict Monday
- Pittsburgh police arrest Carrick man for Allentown playground shooting
- Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto works to smooth path for business ties with Cuba
- Allegheny Intermediate Unit to distribute $530,000 in STEAM grants to 28 school districts