Injured Clairton Officer Testifies In Shooting Suspects’ Trial
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The trial for two men charged in the shooting of Clairton Police Officer James Kuzak resumed Monday morning.
Officer Kuzak took the stand and described the events leading up to the shooting.
On April 4, 2011, Kuzak was one of three officers responding to a home invasion. Kuzak went to the back door of the home in the 800-block of Miller Avenue, while the other officers went to the front door.
Kuzak testified that within minutes the back door slammed shut. When it reopened, the house was dark inside and all he saw were muzzle flashes coming his way.
Kuzak was struck by five bullets in the incident.
“I don’t have my gun. I’m lying on the ground, I see the legs of a person crossed over my legs. I realize this is the person who shot me. I was preparing myself to die. Are they going to finish me off? Shoot me in the head? But nothing happened. I forced myself to yell, ‘I’m hit. I’m down. I need help.’ I hoped my partners could hear me, but nothing happened. There was no way I was going to let myself die and not see the people in my life again,” Kuzak said.
He said he never returned fire because the first bullet struck him in the right forearm and knocked the gun out of his hand.
Kuzak’s time on the stand was cut short by a severe jolt of pain he suffers 10 to 15 times a day.
“As I lay close to dying, I saw people in my life flash before my eyes – my parents, my girlfriend and most important, my grandmother who passed away.”
Kuzak said, “I knew I was paralyzed. I could not twitch my leg as they put me in the ambulance.”
At the hospital, doctors discovered Kuzak had two collapsed lungs and went through emergency surgery.
He still has a bullet lodged in his vertebrae and metal fragments in his spine.
Kuzak said, “I woke up with a tube in my mouth, unable to speak, but I knew I was alive.”
Emilio Rivera and Marcus Andrejco are charged with shooting Kuzak.
Kuzak did not identify the suspects as the men who shot him during his testimony.
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