PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The trial for a man accused of killing three Pittsburgh Police officers in 2009 began Monday morning.
Richard Poplawski is accused in the deaths of Officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle and Paul Sciullo II during a standoff in Stanton Heights.
During his opening statement, Prosecutor Mark Tranquilli described the tragic events that allegedly transpired.
“[Officer] Sciullo was shot down with a shotgun where he stood. [Officer ] Mayhle radioed for backup and engaged him in a gunfight he had no chance of winning. [Officer] Kelly was on his way home. He was assassinated. He never had a chance to get out of his SUV,” Tranquilli said.
Defense attorney Lisa Middleman said, “He took responsibility, but the physical evidence does not support his statement and eyewitnesses contradict his statement.”
A gag order had been in effect, but Judge Jeffrey Manning lifted it Monday because the jury is now sequestered.
The jury of seven men and five women was selected in Dauphin County for this trial.
During testimony, the jurors were shown a picture of two of the fallen officers outside the house.
They also heard the 911 call from Poplawski’s mother, Margaret. During the call she stated that she wanted her son out of the house.
Operator: “Is that a house or an apartment?”
Margaret Poplawski: “It’s a house. I have a 23-year-old child. I just want that he gets out.”
Operator: “Okay. He’s your son?”
Margaret Poplawski: “Yes. He came in last night when I was gone.”
Operator: “He does not live there?”
Margaret Poplawski: “He stays, he comes and goes, but I want him out.”
Operator: “Ok, does he have any weapons or anything?”
Margaret Poplawski: “Yes, they’re all legal.”
Operator: “He’s not threatening you with anything?”
Margaret Poplawski: “I’m just waking up from a sleep. I want him gone.”
Operator: “Ok, what is your name ma’am?”
Margaret Poplawski: ”Margaret Poplawski.”
Officer Tim McManaway tearfully testified he tried to save Officer Eric Kelly and that Kelly’s last words were: “Tell my wife and kids that I love them.”
McManaway suffered a gunshot wound to his hand as he tried to save Kelly. He made a call to dispatch.
Operator: “You okay, hon?”
McManaway: “Yeah, I’m fine. I’ll live. Just took it in the hand. I’ve been worse.”
Operator: “How about the other officer? How’s he?”
McManaway: “I got one down for sure. Eric’s going into shock. I don’t know if he’s still alive. …”
Jurors heard the last words of Officer Mayhle as he begged for backup on his police radio. Gun shots could be heard in the background.
Operator: “Okay unit, where are you?”
Mayhle: (Inaudible) shots fired
Operator: “Any unit go to 1016 Fairfield.”
Mayhle: “Send somebody now!”
Many times, family members had to leave the courtroom.
Dr. Karl Williams, Allegheny County Medical Examiner, took the stand and testified about the numerous bullets that killed Officer Kelly. Jurors also saw some graphic autopsy pictures of Kelly.
An EMS crew chief also broke down in tears on the stand while testifying he couldn’t come to the aid of Officer Kelly for 43 minutes because the gunfire pinned him in. He says Kelly had already bled to death, but they still tried to bring him back to life.
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