Baldwin Borough police chief says 'everything is on the table' in friendly fire incident

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Baldwin Borough police Chief Michael Scott discussed Monday night what may have happened during the friendly fire that wounded one of his officers over the weekend.

Allegheny County police are investigating, and Baldwin police will determine whether officers followed procedure while responding to a domestic dispute early Sunday morning.

Sgt. Ralph Miller, who was shot in the back, was in stable condition Monday at UPMC Mercy, Chief Scott said. He has served on the force for 14 years, where he works as the traffic officer and writes the department's grant applications.

Chief Scott said the man inside the home in the 5100 block of Elmwood Drive started to close the door when officers asked to see what was in his hand, which was not visible. He was holding a milk jug in the other hand.

"That was the variable that changed the whole scenario," Chief Scott said.

A Baldwin officer put his foot in the doorway, and Sgt. Miller pushed his shoulder against the door, attempting to open it. The officer's gun went off, hitting Sgt. Miller between his protective vest and his belt.

Hearing shots, a Baldwin police officer in the back of the house came around front, where he saw Sgt. Miller with the officer on top of him, Chief Scott said.

Chief Scott said police "haven't ruled out" that the first officer's gun could have malfunctioned.

"Everything is on the table," Chief Scott said.

The second officer then saw the man with the milk jug inside the home, and thinking that man shot his colleague, fired at the side of the house, aiming at the man through the window, Chief Scott said.

"He made a determination to shoot through the window," he said.

Chief Scott said the first officer's patrol rifle is the police equivalent to an AR-15 military rifle. Chief Scott said the officer who fired at Sgt. Miller had "extensive training" on a similar gun while in the military.

The Baldwin police force completed a 6- to 8-hour training session "within the last couple of months," where they fired more than 500 rounds and learned about gun safety among other things, Chief Scott said.

Preliminary reports and the early sketches that have emerged so far aren't conclusive, he added.

The investigation is ongoing.

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Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede.


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