DA finds no crime in Monroeville police officer's crash that killed man

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Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said Tuesday that no charges are warranted against a Monroeville police officer who struck and killed a drunken pedestrian with his patrol car last month.

Monroeville police Sgt. Edward Lewkowicz was patrolling on Oct. 3 when he hit Michael Barnes, 49, of Monroeville, who walked out onto Monroeville Boulevard around 7:20 p.m., Mr. Zappala said.

"The analysis involves whether or not a crime was being committed -- I can't even find negligence in connection with Sgt. Lewkowicz's conduct on that particular evening," Mr. Zappala said at a news conference Tuesday.

The officer's dashboard camera, which captured the event, showed Barnes walking into the road, looking straight ahead, the DA said.

Sgt. Lewkowicz was looking to his left and scanning the back of businesses as part of his patrol duties. Mr. Zappala said he was not using his phone.

Investigators believe that Barnes was heading to a nearby liquor store for the second time that day. He had been drinking earlier and had a blood alcohol level of .384, Mr. Zappala said.

Tamara Lord of Monroeville, the mother of Barnes' two children, ages 9 and 12, said she felt the family should have been invited to represent Barnes at the news conference today, and she questioned whether the officer was distracted at the time of the collision.

"It's your responsibility as the driver to see what's around you," she said.

Sgt. Lewkowicz, an 18-year veteran of the Monroeville police department, went through counseling after Barnes' death, Mr. Zappala said. It was not immediately known whether he's been cleared to return to duty; he was placed on administrative leave, per police department policy.

The sergeant could not be reached for comment.


Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944. Twitter: @borntolede. First Published November 12, 2013 12:57 PM


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