The Faces of 90.5 WESA
Government & Politics
Fri January 18, 2013
New Year's Eve 911 Officers Did Not Follow Training, but Didn’t Break Rules
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said officers who responded to a call from Ka’Sandra Wade, who was killed that same night, did not act in accordance with their training. But, he said they also didn’t break department and rules or protocols.
Wade called police on New Year's Eve, only to have her attacker turn the officers away through a window. He apparently proceed to shoot her that same night or had already killed her. Her boyfriend and suspected shooter, Anthony Brown, later killed himself. Zappala said Brown left behind several notes, and read from one of them:
“…I did not mean to kill her, I lost it. I can’t live with it – and eye for an eye. If I don’t do it, then the police will (referencing suicide by cop). They had a chance to save her, and they didn’t do it last night – they came and left. I did it right before midnight, may God have mercy on me,” read Zappala.
Zappala said Ka’Sandra Wade called 911 and was quiet on the line, which operators mistook for calm. It is then suspected that Brown took away the phone. Zappala said it’s believed Wade may have already been dead at the time police arrived. He said rather than leaving the scene, officers should have stayed and continued to knock on the door.
“They should have continued to ask questions, their training would require, at that point, to the point where they don’t get a satisfactory response, or they have not had a chance to talk to the complainant, they should have then called a supervisor, and the supervisor takes it from there,” he said.
Zappala said constitutional protections prevent officers from entering homes without just cause, and he added it seems as though officers would not have had enough evidence to obtain a warrant. He said that while the 911 center did its job as required, one question could have changed the situation.
“The officers need a reason to get into the house and as much information as you can give them quickly – in my mind the easy question, if it’s a woman and you have the address is ‘is there a weapon in play?’”
Zappala said another factor was the situation was not identified as a domestic violence dispute over the phone. Plus, operators described Wade as "calm" when she called. Zappala disagrees that she was calm, and said its more likely she managed to get away from Brown to make the call and was therefore being as quiet as possible.