Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pittsburgh Police Shoot Driver, Mother During Chase

Pittsburgh police obtained a warrant today charging a Carnegie man in connection with a vehicle chase that began in Homestead early Sunday morning and ended with off-duty officers firing shots on the South Side.

Donald Burris Jr., 32, of Carnegie, faces charges of aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and fleeing or attempting to elude police. Pittsburgh police arrested him this morning after his release from UPMC Mercy.

He has not yet been arraigned.

Police said Monday that Mr. Burris was recovering from a gunshot wound to the shoulder.

Donald Burris

His mother, Lena Davenport, 49, a passenger in the Buick LeSabre that Mr. Burris was driving, remained in critical but stable condition after undergoing surgery for a bullet wound to the eye.

The five off-duty officers who fired shots -- officers Igor S. Boyko, Thomas M. Gorecki and Louis R. Schweitzer, narcotics detective Calvin C. Kennedy and Sgt. Stephen Matakovich -- are on paid administrative leave while homicide detectives work with the Allegheny County district attorney's office in reviewing the case.

Pittsburgh police officers working an overtime detail on the South Side learned about 1:40 a.m. that Homestead police were chasing a green Buick on River Road heading toward East Carson Street but did not know why the chase was happening, according to audio recordings of the police scanner and interviews with officers.

As the driver and the Homestead and West Homestead officers chasing him made their way toward the South Side -- often at speeds of about 40 mph -- Sgt. James Perry, who was working as a supervisor in the Zone 3 station that covers the South Side, could be heard shouting for officers to "terminate the pursuit."

Pittsburgh police reports indicate Sgt. Perry called for officers to stop the chase near 33rd and East Carson and they unsuccessfully placed spike strips near 24th Street in hopes of stopping the car, which was weaving through lanes of traffic.

Those reports also indicate Homestead police continued pursuing the Buick into the business district.

Homestead police Chief Jeffrey DeSimone said he was not aware of any requests that his officers stop the chase and thought they had backed off and were instead following several seconds behind when the action intensified.

"My guys weren't in the heart of the South Side when [the Buick] was smacking off cars," Chief DeSimone said. "My guys didn't witness that. They heard the shots, they did not see them."

At least one of the officers shot at the Buick LeSabre as it drove through the 1400 block of East Carson, one block from where it crashed and from where five officers surrounded the car with guns drawn.

Videos posted on YouTube and other sites showed one of the officers standing on the hood of a car next to the smashed Buick.

Pittsburgh police Chief Nate Harper said Sunday that officers did not find weapons or drugs inside the car or in the possession of Mr. Burris or Ms. Davenport.

"The officers felt the use of deadly force was justified because the actor was using his vehicle as a deadly weapon," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment