Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said in a news conference Tuesday that the Monroeville police officer who struck and killed a pedestrian in early October will likely not be charged with a crime.
According to the DA’s office, Michael Barnes, 49, was struck by a police car driven by Sgt. Edward Lewkowicz at around 7:23 p.m. on Oct. 3. Zappala said Barnes was crossing Monroeville Boulevard, a four-lane road under the jurisdiction of Allegheny County.
Barnes was given CPR by a witness and then was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:49 p.m.
Zappala said Lewkowicz was not found to be texting or using his cell phone at the time of the accident, and that the investigation did not reveal any wrongdoing on Lewkowicz’s part.
“I can’t even find negligence in connection with Sgt. Lewkowicz’s conduct on that particular evening, much less some criminal conduct,” Zappala said.
Lewkowicz was found to be traveling at 39 mph in a 35 mph speed limit zone, but Zappala said that did not contribute to the accident.
Zappala said the location of the officer’s on-board computer may have partially obstructed his vision. The bottom of the computer is roughly flush with the bottom of the passenger side window.
Witnesses said Barnes was seen crossing the four lane street earlier in the day. Zappala confirmed that many residents of the neighborhood cross the road at that point, as the nearest crosswalk is almost a quarter mile away at Stroschein Road.
At the time of his death, Barnes had a blood alcohol level of approximately 0.38, more than four times the legal driving limit in Pennsylvania.
Zappala said footage from the officer’s dashboard-mounted camera showed Barnes did not appear to be stumbling, but he also did not appear to be looking to his left toward oncoming traffic.
Another issue at play is the presence of a large bush near the location where the incident occurred. Zappala said it is unclear whether Barnes crossed in front of or behind the bush.
Zappala said his office has called the Allegheny County Road, Bridge, and Park Maintenance Division suggesting that improvements be made at the location of the accident.
“Something has to be done at that particular location, whether it’s lighting, whether that bush is removed, whether there’s a traffic signal, something,” Zappala said.
Zappala said there is nothing in Lewkowicz’s past that would raise any red flags or suggest wrongdoing on his part.
“Homicide has done a very thorough evaluation of this gentleman’s professional history,” Zappala said. “For the last 18 years he’s been with the Monroeville Police Department; prior to that he was with the Allegheny County Police Department. He was disciplined one time for a report that was tardy.”
Lewkowicz is currently on paid administrative leave.