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D.A. Rules Shooting Of Police Chase Suspect Was Justified

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(Photo Courtesy: Allegheny County District Attorney's Office)

(Photo Courtesy: Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala has ruled the shooting death of a suspect after a chase that reached 100 miles per hour last month was justified.

“Some cars were going 80 to 85 miles an hour. I think [city police car] 3412 was traveling almost 100 miles an hour,” said Allegheny County District Attorney Steve Zappala.

That is how Zappala describes the April 21 chase that began in Homewood and ended up in Wilkinsburg. A gun spotted in the car was at issue.

The Chevy Malibu driven by 29-year-old Adrian Williams crashed at Penn and Trenton Avenues, and Williams then ran from the car with a gun, investigators say.

Pictures taken from a city police car show Williams falling after he tripped on some garbage in a yard, according to Zappala.

He says the arrows on still pictures he provided to the media point to the gun in Williams hand, and that verbal commands to drop the gun were not heeded until Officer Chris Kertis fired his weapon.

At one point, Williams tries to throw the weapon away, but he was shot six times.

Zappala says reaction time was a factor.

“I think it’s reaction time – perception, reaction,” says Zappala. “He sees that the gun is being thrown. He actually takes three more shots, but in a period of 1.6 seconds before he stops. If a deer runs in front of your car, generally speaking, it’s going to take you guys 1.8 seconds to react to it.”

Williams and Kertis had been involved in a chase before, and Kertis was involved in a separate incident last year. But this shooting was justified under self-defense laws, says Zappala.

But this shooting was justified under self-defense laws, says Zappala.

“It stands on its own and we didn’t know what it meant, what these prior matters meant, and we wanted to see if there was a pattern, if there was some animus, if there was some relationship, if there was anything that would tie any of those prior matters together,” he said.

Zappala says he has offered the results of his investigation to the U.S. Attorney in case federal investigators want to look at any potential civil rights action.

Kertis, who was relegated to administrative work, will now return to duty, assigned to the robbery squad.

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