Coroner: Fatal Christmas Eve Police Shooting Justified
GREENSBURG (KDKA) – The Westmoreland County Coroner has determined that the fatal shooting of a Hempfield man by state police was justified.
Coroner Ken Bacha made the announcement at a news conference today. He says after reviewing the inquest report he believes police acted with great restraint.
The inquest report was prepared by hearing officer John Greiner, who recommended no charges be filed. Bacha said he would not ask District Attorney John Peck to do any further investigation.
The shooting happened on Christmas Eve 2010 outside Jeffrey Yohman’s Swede Hill Road home in Hempfield.
Police were called there after Yohman and his wife got into an argument over Christmas decorations.
When police arrived, Yohman pushed Trooper John Fritz over a railing causing him to fall eight feet to the ground.
He then went inside and retrieved a long-barrel handgun powerful enough to kill a grizzly bear and continually threatened state troopers.
When Yohman pointed the gun at Trooper John Isoldi, the officer fired two shots that hit Yohman in the chest and abdomen.
This same account of the events was given by numerous police officers and other witnesses at the scene. Frantic 911 tapes played at the inquest further showed the intensity of the situation.
Yohman’s wife attended the inquest in May, but did not attend today’s news conference.
The Westmoreland County Coroner has made it his policy to hold an inquest after every fatal shooting involving a police officer in the county. He says it is important for the public to see that police are being held accountable for their actions.
State Police Captain George Kuzilla says he is pleased with the outcome of the inquest and praised the coroner for holding the proceeding. He says it is important for there to be transparency in the department so the public knows nothing is being hidden.
Officials in attendance today expressed their sympathies to the Yohman family saying that this was a tragedy for everyone involved. They say this is an example of the difficult situations police officers can find themselves in on a moment’s notice.