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DA Zappala reviews fatal shooting in Wilkinsburg by Pittsburgh police officer

| Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 11:24 p.m.

A Pittsburgh police officer shot an armed man six times, including twice in the back of the shoulder, during an encounter in Wilkinsburg, the Allegheny County district attorney said on Wednesday.

Adrian Williams, 29, of Beechview also was hit above the buttocks, through the right arm, and under his left and right arms when shot last week, Zappala said. He died at the scene on April 21 at Ross Street and South Trenton Avenue.

“There is a video,” Zappala said. “It explains how those types of shots would appear on his body.”

In-car video shows that when officers tried to stop Williams on Penn Avenue as he drove away from a club, the ensuing chase and part of the encounter between Officer Christopher Kertis and Williams, Zappala said. Police tried to stop Williams because he got into a car that they saw had a gun in it.

“He's not shot in the back when he's running away,” Zappala said of Williams. “When the officer strikes him, he's in possession of a handgun. As he goes down, the gun leaves his possession.”

Zappala said he is reviewing the incident and would not say whether Williams pointed the gun at Kertis. Members of his office met with the U.S. Attorney's Office this week to discuss the case, Zappala said.

Under state law, justification for using deadly force depends largely on whether the deceased had a weapon, Zappala said. Federal law looks at how the weapon was used and what the police officer experienced.

Police officials placed Kertis on administrative duty, which is standard procedure for officer-involved shootings. Kertis, who joined the force in 2011, received the “Above and Beyond” award for heroism last year for his actions during a March 17, 2013, shooting near the Port Authority East Busway station in which he was hit in both legs and broke both wrists. The accused gunman in that shooting, Dante Bonner, 20, of Homewood, is awaiting trial.

Williams was sentenced in March to five years of 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.

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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