MCKEESPORT, Pa. (KDKA) – Within hours of the shooting of Officer Jerry Athans, McKeesport police and others fanned out to the homes of relatives of suspected shooter Koby Francis, including the mother of Brooke Harris, Francis’ cousin.
“They opened up the door. The babies were standing right here. They opened up the door and they had the guns aimed,” she said.READ MORE: The Search For Kodiak, The National Aviary's Steller's Sea Eagle, Continued On Sunday
Harris said without a warrant or permission, they rushed the house.
— Andy Sheehan (@AndySheehankdka) December 22, 2020
“They’re like, ‘how do you know Koby?’ ‘That’s our family.’ ‘Where’s he at?’ ‘We don’t know.’ ‘Let us in here.’ We’re like ‘no, do you have a warrant?’ So they pushed aside my mom and my uncle out of the way, who are both elderly in their 70s, and charged upstairs in her house,” she said.
Harris is not alone in accusing police of conducting aggressive, warrantless searches without probable cause. Local advocates and attorneys say others have come forward with similar stories.READ MORE: Son Of Carnegie Mellon University President, Thomas Jahanian, Dies After Being Pulled From Monongahela River
“Their homes were searched. Their automobiles were searched. They didn’t feel as if they were given the opportunity to say no. Many times they had guns pointed either in their direction or at them,” said Todd Hollis, an attorney.
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KDKA’s Andy Sheehan raised the accusations last night with McKeesport Police Chief Adam Alfer, who says he’s found no evidence of abuse.
“I’ve spoken with several of the team leaders who were involved in all of the searches and they were actually impressed by the community and their offerings to us. We wouldn’t have went into a house without consent,” he said.
Harris said police went through her house across the street, damaging a closet and tossing curtains in the baby’s crib. She had an appeal to her cousin Koby.
“If he’s watching, I want him to contact an attorney and turn himself in. Because with this stuff they’re screaming out here — ‘shoot to kill’ — I fear for his safety,” she said.MORE NEWS: Curtains Up: Live Performances Return To Cultural District With Safety Precautions In Place
As of Tuesday evening, Francis is still on the run and Officer Athans is recovering from his wounds.