Pittsburgh official promises 'thorough' 911 inquiry

District attorney, homicide detectives also probing events

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Pittsburgh's public safety director Tuesday said he is in the midst of an "administrative investigation" into whether police officers properly handled the response to a disconnected 911 call by a Larimer woman who was later found slain inside her house.

"It's a very serious incident. I think that goes without saying. It's something we're taking very seriously. But we need to be thorough," Michael Huss said in an interview. "If we discover something in here we can change to prevent something like this in the future, we'll do it. We have to determine exactly what happened."

The woman, Ka'Sandra Wade, 33, was found shot to death inside 528 Lowell St. nearly 24 hours after two officers responded to her 911 call. They left 10 minutes later after speaking only to a man -- later identified as her boyfriend -- who denied them entry.

In the first interview given by any top member of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's administration about Ms. Wade's death, Mr. Huss said he did not want to comment extensively or disclose details before he reviewed all the information about the 911 call and Ms. Wade's homicide.

But he pledged a thorough investigation and said he would release the findings publicly.

"I want to be able to take a look at everything and get the full scope of it and really understand what happened," Mr. Huss said.

"I don't want to comment prematurely until we look at everything," Mr. Huss said. "To comment on certain parts of it without having all the facts, I think, is irresponsible."

Homicide detectives are also investigating the chain of events. And District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. is reviewing the incident.

The man police believe killed Ms. Wade -- Anthony L. Brown, 51 -- alleged before he took his own life last Wednesday that police could have saved her.

Mr. Huss said he has not yet heard the 911 call from Ms. Wade. He said his investigation would look at how the call was handled in the context of various city police policies and procedures.

Once the review is complete, Mr. Huss said he intends to be open about his findings.

"We intend to make everything public when it's complete," he said. "We'll be very open and honest once we have a chance to review everything."

Also Tuesday, Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs said the county has decided not to release the tape of Ms. Wade's call to media organizations. Under the state Right-to-Know Law, agencies do not have to release tapes of 911 calls.

"That decision is grounded in the state law, and we made that decision looking at this issue more broadly than just this one call," Ms. Downs said.

"Obviously, we want to prevent any unintended consequences, we do not want to deter anyone from calling and using 911, and we do not want to cause any interference with any investigation -- current or future -- with the release of tapes."

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Jonathan D. Silver: jsilver@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1962. First Published January 9, 2013 5:00 AM


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