Forum To Examine Use Of Police Dogs In Suspect Interactions

Feb 3, 2016

Pittsburgh Police shared this photo of Aren, the K-9 officer killed in Wilkinsburg.
Credit Pittsburgh Police K9 Unit / Facebook

Pittsburgh social justice activists and a police accountability group are seeking answers following the deadly shooting of Bruce T. Kelley Jr., and calling for a possible policy change in regard to police dogs.

According to reports, Port Authority police officers patrolling near the Martin Luther King, Jr. Busway encountered Kelley, Jr. and his father, Bruce T. Kelley, Sr., drinking. Police claim Kelley, Jr. became "aggressive" when they approached him and eventually used a Taser. When the Taser failed to work, police allegedly used a police K-9, which Kelley, Jr. allegedly stabbed, prompting police to fatally shoot him. 

A forum Wednesday will address the issue of whether police dogs should be used during suspect interactions. 

“One of the main issues I’ve been hearing from the community is that they feel as though a dog’s life is being valued over human life,” said Brandi Fisher, president of the Alliance for Police Accountability.

While more information about Kelley, Jr. is still being released, it is known that he was homeless and had a long criminal history. Fisher said she has received many calls and concerns about the incident and the media coverage that followed.

“People are extremely upset, especially Mr. Kelley’s family, that there was more talk about the dog, more compassion, empathy, toward the dog than the human life being lost,” she said.

Social justice activist Julia Johnson said Kelley’s homeless status and criminal record do not justify his killing.

The officers involved have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation into the incident continues.  

Kelley Sr., was arrested and faces multiple charges, including aggravated assault and obstructing police.

The forum starts at 6:30 p.m. at Kingsley Association at 6435 Frankstown Avenue in Homewood.