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Police officer in Wilkinsburg shooting was shot on duty in 2013

Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Erik Wagner(from left) , Amen Corner president; Mayor Luke Ravenstahl; Pittsburgh police Officers Charles Thomas and Christopher Kertis; and Larry Dunn, chairman of the Law Enforcement Awards Committee, pose for a photograph, on Friday, October 25, 2013. The two police officers received the 'Above and Beyond' Award during the Amen Corner 13th annual Senator John Heinz Law Enforcement Awards Day luncheon in the Sheraton Station Square. Other law enforcement officers from around Allegheny County were recognized for their efforts during the past year.

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Monday, April 21, 2014, 7:45 a.m.
 

A Pittsburgh police officer hailed as a hero when he was wounded during a gunfight last year shot and killed a gunman during a confrontation early Monday in Wilkinsburg.

Adrian Williams, 29, of Beechview, who had a conviction for illegal gun possession and a history of confrontations with police, was shot at 3:08 a.m. near the corner of Ross Street and South Trenton Avenue, police said. He was pronounced dead 11 minutes later by paramedics.

An autopsy showed that he died of gunshot wounds in the trunk, a spokesman for the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office said.

Officer Christopher Kertis, who joined the force in July 2011, was placed on administrative duty, which is standard procedure during an investigation into shootings involving police officers, said Pittsburgh Public Safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler.

On March 17, 2013, Kertis was shot in both legs and broke both wrists during a confrontation near the Port Authority East Busway station in Homewood. He spent two months recovering and received the “Above and Beyond” award for heroism.

Dante A. Bonner, 20, of Homewood is awaiting trial, accused of being the gunman in that case.

The shooting on Monday is under investigation by Allegheny County police and the District Attorney's Office.

County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said the incident began when city police spotted a gun in a car parked outside a club on Hamilton Avenue in Homewood.

When officers saw Williams get into the car and drive off, they tried to stop him. Instead, Moffatt said, Williams sped away, traveling along Penn Avenue and onto South Trenton, where he crashed.

“He jumps out of the vehicle and runs between some houses and backyards onto Ross Street, where the officer sees a gun in his hand and tells him to stop,” Moffatt said. “Williams stumbles once, regains himself and tries to run away.”

Moffatt said investigators are trying to determine if Williams pointed the handgun — a 9 mm Smith & Wesson — at Kertis.

“The officer fires and shoots him multiple times,” Moffatt said. “(Williams) tosses the gun away as he is falling.”

The weapon, which had not been reported stolen, is being tested to determine if it was fired during the confrontation, Moffatt said.

County police will talk to the gun owner — who does not live in the area — in an attempt to learn how it ended up in Williams' hands.

Moffatt said at least one other officer saw Williams running with a gun in his hand, but preliminary indications are that Kertis was the only officer to fire his weapon.

The superintendent and District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. say it is too early to determine if the use of deadly force was justified.

“The Allegheny County Police Homicide Unit is the lead agency, and our office is also participating in the investigation of the death of Adrian Williams,” Zappala spokesman Mike Manko said.

“There is a great deal of information being gathered and developed, and at this point, it would not be appropriate to comment, nor would it be appropriate to follow up on any statements that were made public earlier today,” Manko said.

Williams was sentenced last month to five years' probation after pleading guilty to charges of fleeing or attempting to elude police, reckless endangerment, possession of marijuana and traffic violations, state court records show.

In 2004, he received six months of probation for resisting arrest, receiving stolen property and carrying a firearm without a license, records show. He pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2007 and was awaiting trial on drug possession charges filed in January.

Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7820 or mhasch@tribweb.com. Staff writer Jason Cato contributed to this report.

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