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Pittsburgh Police Caught on Video Shooting into Car of Unarmed Suspects

On the same night that police in Southern California were chasing a driver through the streets of Inglewood, police in Pittsburgh were doing the same.

And just as it happened in Inglewood Sunday night, a citizen ended up recording a portion of the chase on video.

But instead of it resulting in a comical Youtube video that currently has more than 800,000 views when it only had around 500 when I posted it here yesterday, it sparked an internal police investigation on a questionable shooting – including one shot of a cop standing on top of a taxi cab firing into a motionless car.

Pittsburgh police said they tried to ensure the safety of the public by calling off the chase of a mother and her son who are accused of trying to buy crack before speeding off.

But a group of off-duty cops in a popular nightlife area were keeping up with the chase on their radios, so when the suspects ended up in their area, they ended up shooting several rounds of gunfire into the car – even though there was never an indication that the suspects were armed.

In fact, the suspects didn’t even have drugs in the car, according to CBS Local.

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Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper said officers attempted to use road spikes to slow down the driver’s vehicle, but he was able to avoid them, continuing toward the densely-populated South Side at a high rate of speed. Harper also said officers tried to call off the chase twice by backing off, in hopes that the driver would slow down or abandon the vehicle.

The chase eventually stopped when five off-duty officers working detail at the nearby bars shot at the car and it slammed into another parked car near 13th Street on the South Side.

The driver and the mother were both hit by bullets. Both were transported to the hospital and are in serious condition.

Harper said the police officers believed their use of deadly force was justified because the driver was using his car as a weapon.

Police say the scene was chaotic, as the incident happened around the time many of the South Side’s bars were closing. Officers from several zones were called out to control the unruly crowd — at one point, close to two dozen officers lined the perimeter of the scene.

One witness said he saw police officers shoot the driver through the window of the car after it crashed and claims that police never told the driver to put his hands up or step out of the car.

“I had just left the bar on the South Side and I heard a car crash and I turn around and as I was turning, I heard two gun shots,” the witness said. “And I looked and a police officer had ran and jumped right on top of a car and fired into the window of the vehicle that had just crashed four times, it was pop, pop, pop, pop and after that it was dead silence.”

CBS Local said they also posted the unedited raw video somewhere on their site, but I can’t seem to find it.

So all we have right now is what they’re telling us, which is that police were looking out for the safety of the people in a crowded area by firing several times into a moving car, then firing an additional six times from an elevated position after the car struck a stationary car.

But witnesses are saying that they might not have started shooting until after the car had crashed in which they would no longer be a threat.

And despite shooting at least six times, they left both suspects alive, which is good, but also goes against police protocol, which is to kill your target.

 

About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.