Police officer shot motorist six times last week, Zappala says

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Six shots struck a man killed by a Pittsburgh police officer last week and the case remains under review, the Allegheny County district attorney said Wednesday.

Adrian Williams, 29, of Beechview died April 21 after he led Pittsburgh police on a chase from Larimer to Wilkinsburg, where he crashed a car and pulled out a gun, officials have said. They said Pittsburgh police Officer Christopher Kertis fired the fatal shots.

District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. for the first time Wednesday described the locations of the gunshot wounds Williams sustained -- one of several pieces of evidence that will factor into his decision on whether to charge the officer in connection with Williams' death.

Two bullets entered Williams through the rear of his right shoulder, Mr. Zappala said. He noted that another traveled through a shoulder, another near Williams' buttocks, another entered under his left arm and one went through the right shoulder and under the arm pit, continued to travel and severed the aorta.

"There is video that explains how these types of shots would appear on his body," Mr. Zappala said. "He's not running away."

"When the officer strikes him, he is in possession of a handgun. As he goes down, the gun leaves his possession," the district attorney said.

Mr. Zappala declined to go into further detail about the positioning of Williams' body relative to Officer Kertis when the fatal shots were fired, noting that his office continues to investigate.

David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor, said autopsy results are one of several factors that officials review when trying to determine whether a shooting is justified. Other evidence could include video or witness interviews.

"A bullet is a piece of metal that is flying at a very significant speed with a lot of pressure and hitting a person once can easily change the way that a body is facing," Mr. Harris said.

Mr. Zappala said his office has video and audio from large parts of the incident, including Williams' initial encounter with police, the chase and part of the shooting.

Williams, a felon, was not legally permitted to carry a gun. Mr. Zappala said officials have determined that the gun Williams carried that night was registered to someone in central Pennsylvania and he did not have any indications that it had been reported stolen.

Mr. Zappala said his office met with representatives of the U.S. attorney's office and FBI regarding the shooting.

U.S. attorney David Hickton in a statement confirmed their discussion and said, "the district attorney's office requested, and the FBI agreed to provide, laboratory assistance related to the DA's investigation."

A spokesman for the FBI did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday night. A spokesman for the DA's office said he could not discuss specifics about what that testing entailed, but it is not unusual for the DA's office to request help from federal agencies.

Liz Navratil: lnavratil@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1438 or Twitter @LizNavratil. First Published April 30, 2014 2:08 PM


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