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Baldwin Council Meets with Police Chief to Discuss Personnel

Public Safety Chair Larry Brown says that the council will not intervene with Chief Scott's investigation of a Sunday morning shooting. Scott reveals more details of the incident.

The start of Tuesday night's Baldwin Borough Council meeting was delayed by about 10 minutes to allow the Baldwin Council to finish another meeting with borough police Chief Michael Scott.

The chief's private meeting with Baldwin's elected officials was to discuss personnel, borough Manager John Barrett said.

The meeting comes less than three days after a Sunday morning shooting at a home on Elmwood Drive in the central part of the borough left one Baldwin police officer—Sgt. Ralph Miller—with gunshot wounds in his hip/lower back area.

Miller was shot twice by a fellow Baldwin officer, Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said at news conference on Sunday following the incident. A third Baldwin officer, also responding to the scene, also fired a shot but did not hit anyone, Moffatt said. Instead, that officer's round struck the outside of the Elmwood home.

The officers were responding to a domestic disturbance at 5147 Elmwood at around 4 a.m. after a female resident told police that her boyfriend, who also lives there, was holding a gun and was threatening to harm himself, Moffatt said.

Scott has since revealed more details of the incident.

According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, Scott said that a man inside of the home was confronted in his front doorway by officers and asked by them to show what was in one of his hands—which was not visible. As KDKA reports, the man refused to show both of his hands and started to close the door on the officers.

One Baldwin officer then put his foot into the doorway, and Sgt. Miller pushed his shoulder against the door in an attempt to open it, the P-G reports. The other officer's gun, a rifle, then—somehow—went off, hitting Miller between his protective vest and his belt.

The P-G reports that the man inside of the home was holding a milk jug in his other hand.

The third officer, thinking that that man had shot Miller, fired at the house, aiming at the man through a window, Scott said.

Two children were inside of the home at the time of the shooting—a 17-month-old and a 6-year-old, Moffatt said.

Moffatt said that the boyfriend's gun, a shotgun, was found outside of the home but that police do not know when it was thrown.

Following Tuesday's public Baldwin Council meeting, Councilman and Public Safety Chair Larry Brown said that council members will not intervene with Scott's investigation of the incident. (UPDATE, Feb. 19: County police and the district attorney's office are also involved in the investigation of this incident.)

"Because I don't have any training in law enforcement," Brown explained. The councilman said that, instead, he and his colleagues will wait to hear what Scott has uncovered before making any kind of decisions regarding what to do with the officers involved in the incident.

Baldwin Mayor Alexander R. Bennett Jr., who oversees the borough's police force, is on vacation.

The names of the two officers who fired shots are not being released. Those officers have been placed on administrative leave, which will include counseling, Scott said. A representative of UPMC Mercy Hospital said on Wednesday that Miller remains in care at that hospital's Trauma and Burn Center.

Sunday's incident has certainly raised questions for Scott to try to find answers for, such as what caused the gun that injured Miller to fire—not once but twice—and why the other officer made his decision to fire at the window.

Scott told the Post-Gazette that he has not "ruled out" that the rifle that injured Miller could have malfunctioned.

Miller is well known around Baldwin Borough and its surrounding area as a child car seat inspector. Miller does not charge for that work and has been known to inspect seats for parents even on days that he is not scheduled to work.

A 14-year police veteran, Miller was promoted to the rank of sergeant in February 2011. Before becoming a police officer, Miller was a truck driver looking for a "career change" and "advancement," he told Patch at the time of his promotion.

"And a desire to serve," he said.

From his hospital bed, Miller has made arrangements with the American Academy of Pediatrics to pick up his seat-inspection appointments.

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PITT#983 February 15, 2013 at 05:06 AM
BaldwinGrad why should that officer be suspended? Unless he violated something within his standard operating procedures everyone needs to AGAIN wait for ALL the facts to come out. There is also case law that will play into all this once the investigation is complete. Remember what has been reported so far. The officer is on a different side of the house hears shots being fired. It is unclear if he sees his SGT down. He possibly may believe the shots are directed at him. He delivers one shot in the direction of the house. Graham V Conner is otherwise known as The Reasonable Officer Standard. You can read the case but the highlights are these: The standard is what is reasonable not what is right or wrong. Would another officer with similar or like training have acted in a similar fashion. There is no "20/20 hindsight". Basically would another officer have acted similarly in that same situation. This situation was tense uncertain and rapidly evolving. Remember the Michael Ellerbe case of 2003. Trooper Nassan and his partner are chasing a suspect. Nassan's partner climbs a fence, Nassan hears a shot being fired and sees his partner go down to the ground. Nassan believes his partner has been shot and returns fire and kills Ellerbe. After investigation is complete, Nassan's partner had an accidental discharge of his weapon and fell while going over the fence. Nassan is cleared of criminal charges and mainly because of Graham V Conner.
PITT#983 February 15, 2013 at 05:12 AM
Let the investigation be the guide and don't be quick to judge. This is an awful situation for all those involved.
Marvin February 15, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Pitt#983, after reading some of these comments I'm convinced there is a ton of reasonable residents in Baldwin who will give this tragedy a chance to unfold in a professional manner. Thank goodness the radical "lynch mob" mentality moved into the minority years ago in defference of law and order. On the surface I personally could see no reason that either officer should be penalized, however, I will leave that decision up to the investigation team and Chief Scott's professional judgement. They will remove the sensationalization that has been expressed in the Baldwin Patch by the editor who uses words designed to favor insurrection, hatred, and discontent. They will remove the heresay comments made by people who have no idea what actually happened. They will focus on factual events from participants and witnesses, not Monday morning quarterbacks. Talk is cheap, facts are invaluable!
NE12Ukid February 15, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Drama class assignement, Marv?
Robert Edward Healy, III February 15, 2013 at 04:13 PM
Marvin, which words are you referring to that I've used?
Marvin February 15, 2013 at 05:55 PM
@NE12Ukid, exactly, Drama 101. Those who criticize are those who know the least about the facts. Our community has a seriously injured, very capable and well liked police officer. We should be concerned about him and his family, regardless of how he was injured. Next, this was an accident plain and simple. Baldwin does not hire policemen or women with a mentality of shooting other officers; ridiculous and immature thought process. The officer who did the shooting needs to be de-briefed and given time and proper resources for his recovery. The officer who fired his weapon into the house is also devistated. His response was typical based on the information he had at hand and his training. We must support everyone involved while the professionals conduct their investigation to determine the proper response. Robert, your writing style has been apparent in your articles for some time. An editor has responsibility for the accuracy and wording of what is published and for the protection of those involved in a case like this. History says you take ownership of neither. Maybe you should be investigated and given a chance to work somewhere else. I don't have the time or desire to go back and reread your articles to prove my point. The residents of Whitehall and Baldwin have all seen it. As a starter, a shotgun has a "blast" not a rifle. The weapon was discharged twice but the officer was injured by "one" shot from the rifle, not two rifle blasts as you indicate. Time to cowboy up.
Robert Edward Healy, III February 15, 2013 at 06:00 PM
Marvin, you're entitled to your opinions, but I will stand by my work. Regarding Miller's injury: "We believe that the (injured) officer was hit twice. We didn't find any other slugs at the home." - county police Superintendent Moffatt
Gary G Vamos February 15, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Wow, does anyone have anything better to do then rant, make accusations of not being impartial and being just plain mean?
Marvin February 15, 2013 at 09:44 PM
You are correct, Robert, I am entitled to my opinion. Right now my opinion is not too good but I think it can be changed. I just want to know the news I read from this Patch is being reported truthfully and factually, that it is from reliable sources and is without unnecessary sensationalization. We around here appreciate our first responders tremendously and want them protected from unnecessary exposure. Their sensitivities, their lives, their reputations, and their families are involved. You have an excellent opportunity through this media outlet to do just that and I'm confident you will succeed. Work with and through our local officials, gain their confidence and respect, report factual information as it becomes available through proper channels and you will do a wonderful job. I've read articles from Patches in other parts of our region and there are some good editors out there. You can be just as good or better than them. Just follow proper protocol when reporting and you will do great. Peace.
old man February 15, 2013 at 11:24 PM
This is my opinion only, you can't draw a conclusion on how the officer was shot. But as for the other officer, who stood outside the house and fire a shot at the house. He should be terminated immediately, he showed a total disregard for the two children, the two adults and the police officers already in the house. There is absolutely no excuse for his trigger happy actions.
NE12Ukid February 16, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Marvin, unless you can be specific with quoted examples, your complaints sound very hollow.
Robert Edward Healy, III February 16, 2013 at 02:27 AM
Marvin, thank you for reading and for taking the time write. Can you point to something not factual please? I can change if need be.
PITT#983 February 16, 2013 at 05:33 AM
old man... It is not being "trigger happy" which is one of the dumbest sayings It is reacting during tense uncertain and a rapidly evolving situation. The process of evaluating a situation with the information known at the time. Remember 20/20 hindsight does not apply but what you believed at the time. You weren't there and therefore have NO idea. Read my previous post and maybe you will understand things differently. Again, let the investigation continue and for facts will come forth then you may be able to formulate a more educated opinion.
cc February 16, 2013 at 01:33 PM
Marvin, I for one enjoy reading Bob's articles. I don't want him to change anything.
cc February 16, 2013 at 01:37 PM
All 3 of the officers were outside the house. They were all in the front yard from what other articles said. Didn't the second officer who fired the shot at the house see the second officer shoot the first one???? Where was his eyes at, after all he was backup for the officer at the door of the house.
Watcher February 16, 2013 at 02:06 PM
I only commented once on this in the other post. In my opinion, the investigation should be by the district attorneys office and/or the county police. While I do hope the officer makes A full recovery, the fact remains he was shot at least once, but probably twice by his fellow officer behind him. The SGT. was in the line of fire, which the officer should have seen and should have repositioned. Other officer just taking A shot into the window? Sorry, as I said before, no fire disipline. Weapon malfuntion? Highly unlikely, if that is suspected, all the rifles need to be pulled from service, has that been done? Dont know. Panic, adrenaline rush, very likely, seeing your officer down, tunnel vision sets in. Other people where known to be in the house, A woman that made the call and two yound children, that was clearly not taken into consideration as the shots were fired, everyone here is speculating, what if the child was looking out the window when the second officer fired? Blame the man who started it all, sure, hes responsible, to A point.But so are all the police officers involved, remember. they did all the shooting. Did they know he didnt have A gun, no, but that still dont give them A right to blindly fire. A few posts back it was mentioned about the Nasser case involving the State troopers, yes the trooper was cleared criminally of killing the suspect, but overall, the Commonwealth lost the civil case and awarded millions to the family.
Danny February 16, 2013 at 02:07 PM
@cc, if you read the article on WTAE's website, the following was said. The third officer was not in the front of the house, it states "When he came around he saw Officer Miller down".: Scott said Sgt. Miller was shot in the back, then a third officer fired. "When he came around he saw Officer Miller down, he saw the second officer over top of that officer and also believed him to be hit. He also saw through the window someone advancing toward their position, which he thought was the person that shot both those officers," Scott said. The chief said that officer's bullet hit the house. Read more: http://www.wtae.com/news/local/allegheny/Baldwin-police-officer-accidentally-shot-by-fellow-officer/-/10927008/18487290/-/ehi8g1/-/index.html#ixzz2L5BFkHJI
Watcher February 16, 2013 at 02:13 PM
Continued, The suspect in the Nasser case was, I believe, shot in the back while running away. The jury obviously didnt buy the story and awarded the millions to the family. Dont get me wrong, I dont agree with criminals, and if you break the law all kinds of things can happen, obviously. Thing is, we will never know, what happened here, unless you can get all the reports from all the agencies involved, police and all medical reports.
Danny February 16, 2013 at 02:54 PM
@Watcher, lots of speculation going on here by individuals who have no law enforcement background, etc. That is why there is an investigation taking place. I am sure that the officers had to give statements to the county police, etc. and I have the upmost confidence that all will be reviewed and the right actions will follow. From the articles I read, looks to me that the third officer was in a spot where he could not see the officers at the front of the house. Maybe he was watching the back of the house (once again speculation). There is such a thing called "setting up a perimeter". The front door is not the only entry point to a home. Let the right individuals who have years of experience in law enforcement finish their investigation and then formulate an opinion.
PITT#983 February 16, 2013 at 03:53 PM
AH if you re-read my original post I think I state that fact. However the point I am trying to make is situations in this business are not always black and white and there is case law that covers that very thing and I am only trying to open peoples eyes to this fact. The investigation will prove the rights and wrongs of this incident. None of us know and wait for the investigation to end.
PITT#983 February 16, 2013 at 04:03 PM
Watcher you are right, the state lost 12.5 million in the civil case. The point I was making in referencing the Ellerbe case was that Nassan was found to have acted "reasonable" at the time with what he believed had happened when the incident went to a criminal court. Of course civil proceeding's are different and the state paid the price. We do have to let things be investigated fully. I just get tired of people with no law enforcement knowledge throwing statements out without having any true working knowledge or allowing people to do their jobs to find out what happened. Once ALL the facts are out then make a statement or opinion because there will be facts to base it on.
Margaret French February 16, 2013 at 04:31 PM
I agree... you are a wise old man.
cc February 17, 2013 at 04:17 AM
Marvin, Bob does report all the information he has on hand at the time, and if you read his articles they change when more information is given out. All news channels were given the same story as Bob posted, then as more information came out he changed the story to add the additional information just like the other newspapers, tv news channels.
Marvin February 17, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Out of town for a little while due to family emergency. Glad to see this debate and the "word on the street" moving toward allowing the powers that be an opportunity to take this incident apart, action by action, reaction by reaction and action by reaction. Unless an individual has actually stood backup for a lead officer who is trying to breach a door or get inside to determine the safety and security of a distraught wife and two young children (having already been told there is, at a minimum, a shotgun on the other side of that door), anything we say is just tongue-wagging. What was going through the officers' minds? What did they see happening? What did their mind tell them they saw happening? How did this relate back to practical training? Should training procedures be modified? What did the second officer know? Had he seen which room the wife and children were in? Statements from old man calling them trigger happy are irresponsible, insensitive and uneducated. @ cc, Danny, Pitt#983, AH and others, thank you for your persistence in suggesting moderation in judgement. If Robert is reporting exactly what he gets from PROFESSIONAL sources (not the perverbial old man on the street), then I will stand corrected in my initial comments. It should be our goal each day to be better communicators than the day before. John 8:7, ....let him who is without sin cast the first stone." The court of public opinion has been replaced with a court of laws! Peace and Thank You.
Robert Edward Healy, III February 19, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Watcher, I've learned that county police and the district attorney's office are involved in the investigation.
Danny February 19, 2013 at 09:49 PM
@Bob, I watched the press conference. Wasn't the County Superintendent briefing everyone on their findings of their investigation? I believe that the only investigation remaining is the BPD internal review to determine if there were violations of policy or procedure or any possible criminal charges that could be brought against the homeowner.
Robert Edward Healy, III February 19, 2013 at 09:54 PM
I know that county police and the district attorney's office are still involved in the investigation of this incident as a whole.
Robert Edward Healy, III February 25, 2013 at 08:52 PM
"Charges Filed Against Man in Baldwin Police Shooting": http://patch.com/A-2pwb
Robert Edward Healy, III February 27, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Marvin, specifically, are there parts of my reporting that you take issue with?
Robert Edward Healy, III March 11, 2013 at 05:48 PM
"Blood Drive in Honor of Sgt. Miller Set for Tuesday": http://patch.com/A-2Csk

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