Warning from police supervisor too late to prevent fatal shots

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Penn Hills police Officer Michael Crawshaw never had the chance to hear his supervisor warn him to wait for backup.

Sgt. William Vrbin gave the order on his radio, "do not go in until we have enough people over there," but that was 22 seconds after investigators say Officer Crawshaw had been fatally shot.

The second-by-second breakdown of the events of Dec. 6, 2009, was the central focus of testimony Friday in the second day of the double homicide trial of Ronald Robinson. He is charged with killing both Officer Crawshaw and Danyal Morton, who owed him $500 from a drug deal.

Allegheny County police Detective James Holman put together all of the audio files captured by the 911 center that evening from the scene on Johnston Road and played the 14-minute recording for the jurors.

The event began with Morton's 911 call as he hid inside an upstairs bathroom in the home at 201 Johnston Road.

That call was placed at 8:21 and 55 seconds.

Just 56 seconds later, Morton can be heard arguing with the man he identifies as "Black," which is Robinson's nickname.

Officer Crawshaw was dispatched to the scene at 8:23:08 and announced on the radio at 8:25:03 he was turning on to Johnston Road.

Shots being fired outside can be heard on Morton's 911 call at 8:25:17.

Sgt. Vrbin's order to wait for backup wasn't given until 8:25:39.

At 8:32:10 the sergeant called for medics after finding Officer Crawshaw shot and slumped inside his patrol car. He had been struck just below his left eye.

Penn Hills Paramedic Paul Huska was the first emergency medical responder on the scene. He said when he looked at Officer Crawshaw he knew he was deceased.

"He looked lifeless," Mr. Huska said.

He found no pulse or respiration and pronounced the 32-year-old officer dead. The paramedic then was summoned inside the home to check on Morton.

He, too, was dead, Mr. Huska said, with four bullet wounds in his chest.

The medic saw ammunition from an AK-47 on the hallway floor.

As he returned to Officer Crawshaw's vehicle, Mr. Huska was surprised to see his fellow paramedics loading the patrolman on a stretcher into the ambulance, when he believed him to be dead.

He was told to intubate the officer to set up an airway.

It wasn't until several days later, Mr. Huska testified, that he found out why his colleagues transported Officer Crawshaw.

They had hooked him up to a portable heart monitor and saw electrical activity. Mr. Huska believed there was activity, but he told the jury it could not have continued.

"It's the electrical system of a healthy young heart trying to beat," he said.

The wound to Officer Crawshaw was not survivable, the paramedic said.

"Absolutely nothing they could have done."

The last witness of the day Friday was Thomas Morgan, a firearms expert with the Allegheny County medical examiner's office.

He told the jury that it was clear from the pattern of the damage to Officer Crawshaw's vehicle that the shooter had to have been moving as the shots from the AK-47 were fired.

Mr. Morgan also testified that Officer Crawshaw fired his .45-caliber Glock twice from inside the car.

The trial, before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Kevin G. Sasinoski will resume Monday morning with Mr. Morgan still on the stand.


Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620.


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