Officer gets bail in Bloomfield bar killing

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A Pittsburgh police officer accused of fatally shooting a friend inside a Bloomfield bar last weekend was expected to be released on $50,000 bail.

Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning required Kenneth Farnan, 50, of Lawrenceville to post 10 percent and be released to electronic home monitoring.

Though the $5,000 had been posted, he was not yet released Thursday night, as Officer Farnan could only be released to the Sheriff's Office, according to the jail.

Defense attorney William Difenderfer, who represents Officer Farnan, requested the bond hearing after his client spent the three previous days in jail. Mr. Difenderfer said his client is entitled to bond because the facts alleged by the prosecution don't rise to the level of first-degree -- or premeditated -- murder with malice and specific intent, and because his client is alleging self-defense.

Police charged Officer Farnan with homicide in the Sunday shooting death of Shawn Evans, 56, of Bloomfield inside Condrin's Tavern on Torley Street. Detectives wrote in a criminal complaint that Officer Farnan and Mr. Evans were close friends and fought inside the bar.

The incident started when Mr. Evans hit Officer Farnan's head off the bar because the officer was passing out, said Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pellegrini.

During the first part of the fight, she said, Officer Farnan bit Mr. Evans, but the two men were separated, and Mr. Evans went into the bathroom. When he came out, Ms. Pellegrini said, Officer Farnan started the fight again.

Officer Farnan fired six shots, the prosecutor said, then placed the gun on the bar to wait for police.

"There is absolutely no evidence the victim was armed," Ms. Pellegrini said. "The defendant chose to start this fight and escalate it with a gun."

She objected to Officer Farnan receiving bail.

But Mr. Difenderfer said Mr. Evans had his client, who recently had neck surgery, in a headlock and slammed Officer Farnan's head off the bar.

"My guy was covered with bruises," the attorney said.

Mr. Difenderfer touted his client as a Marine veteran who served from 1980 through 1984 and received the Purple Heart for injuries received while he served as part of a multinational peacekeeping force in Beirut.

His military personnel file says he was a corporal and specialized at various times as a field artillery battery man, as a rifleman and doing reconnaissance.

Mr. Difenderfer disputed claims that Officer Farnan, who has four children ages 7 to 27, was close friends with Mr. Evans, as police had said.

"They knew each other," Mr. Difenderfer said. "They were acquaintances. They were certainly not best friends."

Ms. Pellegrini said Officer Farnan was evaluated at the Allegheny County Jail's behavioral clinic, and requested that he be evaluated by Mercy Behavioral Health and receive treatment as recommended.

The officer has been on workers' compensation leave since July 2010 for injuries he suffered during an accident while on duty. Officer Farnan filed -- and later settled -- a lawsuit against a driver who struck him while he was on duty in Crawford-Roberts in December 2008. In a court filing related to that case, a doctor said Officer Farnan required neck surgery and is "totally disabled from doing police work."

Officer Farnan was scheduled to retire Wednesday, Mr. Difenderfer said.

neigh_city - breaking

Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620. Twitter: @PaulaReedWard. First Published September 12, 2013 12:00 AM


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