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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