Stephen Zappala

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala says a Pittsburgh police officer who shot and killed a man in Wilkinsburg in April was justified in opening fire.

Officials say Adrian Williams, 29, who was killed in the shooting, had led police on an early-morning high-speed chase that started in Homewood and ended in Wilkinsburg, when he crashed the car he was driving and then ran through yards with a handgun.

Zappala said at least 12 other officers were at the scene and had been involved in the chase. Officer Christopher Kertis shot Williams six times.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

When veterans face criminal charges in Allegheny County, many of them are not represented by experienced lawyers.  Instead, they are often defended by law students.

“It’s critical to help these individuals on so many different levels,” said Allison Gordon, Duquesne University law student and clinic manager. “We have them socially engaged, we have their medical engagement through VA resources and then for us to be able to help them with their legal issues, it helps bring them back into the community and be active members.”

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

District attorneys from across the state gathered at a Pittsburgh rehabilitation center Thursday, pushing for Senate passage of a bill they said would combat the growing heroin epidemic. That epidemic, they said, is tied directly to an increase in the abuse of prescription drugs.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Wednesday’s stabbings at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville has left many asking what steps can be taken to prevent these acts of violence.

The Center for Victims thinks an important part of the equation to stop violence is men. 

That’s why the center kicked off its “Men Ending violeNce” (MEN) challenge, which encourages men to pledge to become proactive and speak out if they see violence.

Molly Allwein, Community Relations Coordinator, said men have a voice that women don’t.

The federal government spends around $125 billion on mental health annually, but the ways in which that money is spent are ineffective and antiquated, according to U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Allegheny).

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.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Duquesne Place, a subsidized housing complex in Duquesne, has had some rough years.

In January 2012 a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed, and a 14-year-old was injured. The previous year, a 17-year-old boy was shot there. Overall, there was a high level of crime.

Over the past year the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office has been working with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit (AIU) and the Duquesne City School District to boost education opportunities and build a stronger community at the complex.

Allegheny County District Attorney's Office

As children all over the region head back to school, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala announced his office will not pursue criminal charges in last year's ductwork collapse at Shaler Area Elementary School. Last spring, more than one ton of HVAC ductwork came crashing down on cafeteria tables injuring 13 people. Seven kids and two adults were taken to the hospital with injuries. Zappala said the situation must be set apart from other incidents, such as the Center City building collapse in Philadelphia.

The Allegheny County District Attorney called for an increase in the use of video cameras in law enforcement Monday.

Stephen Zappala said cameras add an extra level of objectivity to the police force.

Zappala said video cameras in police vehicles reduced legal complaints against police officers across the county by 90 percent.

“Every time that somebody sues a municipality on a one-on-one stop,” he said, “it costs us money as taxpayers. We refer to it legally as contingent liabilities … When you introduce objective evidence, that changes substantially.”

If police in the Whitaker Borough want a search warrant, they’ll need the approval of the Allegheny County district attorney’s office.

This decision comes in response to the 2012 arrest of Whitaker Borough police officer William Davis, who was charged in April with two counts of false swearing, unsworn falsification to authorities and official oppression, and one count of perjury for using a warrant to get access to a private residence.

District Attorney Stephen Zappala said the department will be under a microscope.

A day before a scheduled preliminary hearing, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala announced he's dropping charges against a Pittsburgh teacher who was arrested outside a meeting about police/community relations.

Dennis Henderson, a 38-year-old teacher at the Manchester Academy Charter School, was arrested June 26 in Homewood after leaving a Community Empowerment Association meeting.  

Melvin Convicted

Feb 21, 2013

Suspended state Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin has been convicted of six of seven campaign corruption charges while her sister Janine Orie has been convicted of the six counts she faced.

Janine Orie was an administrative assistant to Melvin.