PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A coroner’s inquest was held today into the shooting death a man by police in January.
Trooper Chad Cope testified that he was afraid for his life when 26-year-old Seth O’Donnell attacked him with a pair of scissors.
A hearing officer today saw surveillance and dash cam video of the confrontation that happened around 9 a.m. at the East Huntingdon Save-A-Lot grocery store.
The video shows O’Donnell wandering throughout he store wearing shorts and two animal hats he picked up on his way in.
Employees described his bizarre behavior on the stand and testified that he had a crazy look in his eyes.
O’Donnell attacked the trooper with the scissors. The trooper twice deployed his Taser, but O’Donnell was unaffected.
O’Donnell reaches for the trooper’s gun, causing it to fly out of the holster. As the trooper goes to retrieve his gun, O’Donnell takes off through the store and a brief pursuit ensues.
The two get into another scuffle when O’Donnell again attacks the trooper with the scissors.
The trooper fires three shots. One breaking a glass door, the others hitting O’Donnell in the chest.
O’Donnell takes off into the parking lot where he collapses.
Police say O’Donnell had a large amount of Prozac, Robitussin PM and Benadryl in his system at the time of the altercation.
In February 2012, O’Donnell was charged after he attacked his mother and neighbor with a wooden mantle clock.
The hearing officer today also saw a photo of the scissors which broke at some point during the altercation and also of Tpr. Cope’s head wounds.
A coroner’s inquest is routine any time there is a fatal police-involved shooting.
The hearing officer will review the evidence presented today and make a recommendation to the coroner as to whether the shooting was justified.
State police say the trooper had to make a difficult decision, but ultimately saved his own as well as other lives.
O’Donnell’s family saw the video of the altercation in the courtroom today for the very first time. His mother sobbed as it was played.
The family’s attorney says the trooper acted out of anger, not fear. He says O’Donnell was retreating at the time the fatal shots were fired and that the trooper’s actions were questionable.
The family is undecided if they will file a civil suit against State Police.