By: KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso
ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. (KDKA) — The attorney representing the family of a man shot and killed last year by police in Wilkinsburg wants the department disbanded.
Romir Talley was shot and killed by Wilkinsburg police on Dec. 22, 2019. Last week, Wilkinsburg Council President Pamela Macklin identified the police officer as Robert Gowans. He was placed on administrative leave following the shooting, but it is not known if that is still the case.
Attorney Paul Jubas say it is time to disband the Wilkinsburg Police Department. He, along with activists and Talley’s family members, stood on the steps of the City-County Building on Monday, calling for change.
They say they want several things, including the firing of Gowans, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala to charge Gowans with criminal homicide, a transparent trial and the Wilkinsburg Police Department to be held accountable.
Jubas said officer Gowans’ story does not add up. He would not elaborate but says a witness has come forward disputing the police officer’s account that Talley fired at him first.
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“The new evidence is that there is a witness that contradicts the story told by officer Robert Gowans,” said Jubas. “At this point, officer Gowans was the only testimony, only evidence with regards to what happened that night.”
Mike Manko, a spokesperson for District Attorney Zappala’s office, released a statement, saying:
“It’s extremely troubling that someone purporting to be a witness to the taking of a human life would wait more than 200 days before bringing their information forward.”
Jubas pointed out that the Wilkinsburg Police Department does not have body cameras or dash cameras. He says this shouldn’t be the case.
Macklin told KDKA’s Jennifer Borrasso the police department “has the full support of council and the residents of Wilkinsburg.
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“We are discussing making structural changes in our communications with our police department and council,” Macklin said. “Over the past year, it has become painfully obvious that dependence upon the mayor is not working. We have been in talks with our police department regarding body cameras. We have been seeking funding for body camera data storage.”
The Allegheny County Police Department is handling this investigation. The department said they’re waiting on the DA’s office to determine if charges will be filed, however, Allegheny County Police Superintendent Coleman McDonough says he does not anticipate charges being filed against the officer.
KDKA reached out to the Wilkinsburg police chief and the mayor. We have not yet heard back.