You know, it is not often that I read an editorial in the PG and then say to myself, “word!”

However, I am so glad that someone has asked the question I have been asking myself regarding the police officer that fired a bullet at a car on Grant Street during a busy pedestrian time.

This happened last Thursday near Mellon Tower. I walked by just as the whole thing ended and before the rest of the cops showed up. There stood two ladies looking very very scared and downright ready to lose their shit.

I had no idea what had happened, figured a road rage cat fight was fixing to break out, and continued on my way, only to read the account in the paper the next morning. I read the article, put down the paper, picked up my latte, looked out the window and thought to myself, “Holy shit! I’m lucky to be alive!”

Okay, a bit much, I know. My point is this, what would possess an officer to shoot at a car in a crowded downtown street? Let the idiot drive off and find him later. Shooting at a careening car and actually injuring the driver is, I think, a pretty low percentage shot. You don’t shoot at a moving target at Grant and Oliver at 4:00 p.m. unless you see Osama Bin Laden sprinting for the Federal Building with a strange looking package.

I was ready to post an entry questioning the officer’s decision to shoot, but decided to hold off until I got more info. That more info came in the form of this article, in which the officer recounts how he made sure there were no pedestrians that could have been harmed. I decided to put the story to rest while still nursing a feeling that it seems a bit reckless to fire a weapon in such a setting.

But I figured, I don’t want to insult the officer; I have no idea what police officers go through, and he hadn’t fired his weapon at a person in like 20 years so he probably doesn’t have a trigger finger, so just drop it, PittGirl! And drop it I did.

Then the PG went and agreed with me.

Word! I swear they went in my head and read the post I was going to post on Friday.


  1. Rob
    September 27, 2005 10:27 am

    First, this is not the first time the officer fired his gun in 20 years. It’s the first time he fired his gun at a person in twenty years.

    To maintain the right to carry a gun, an officer has to pass a proficiency test – I’m not sure how often Pittsburgh police have to pass that test, but it’s somewhere on the order of every year.

    Second, doesn’t the fact that he only fired the gun this time at a person in twenty years tell you something about the officer? He’s not trigger happy.

    Cars are deadly weapons. The decision to run down a police officer and civilians shows a complete disregard for life. The perp obviously does not have the sense to not run people down, and is very likely to do it again. He’s a menace.

    All shootings should be investigated. I’m not saying this shouldn’t be investigated. There are questions that need to be answered: what did the officer see beyond the car? Was there a chance of a ricochet? How did everything line up? Handguns are short-range weapons that aren’t very accurate beyond a near distance — how far away was the vehicle he was shooting at and what was the “cone of error” the bullet might have traveled?

    Now, I’ll admit a bias. I was involved in two shootouts, both times as an unarmed Pittsburgh paramedic in the line of fire. I was also almost run over by a driver who was annoyed that we were trying to save the lives of a car accident victim on the far side of the Squirrel Hill tunnel. My one regret is that, as I jumped out of the way of that moron, I didn’t accidentally fling my 4D cell flashlight at the driver’s windshield.

  2. pittgirl
    September 27, 2005 10:34 am

    Rob, the reason I wrote the line about him not firing his weapon in 20 years was to point out that the officer did not have a trigger finger and that is why I was hesitant to question his decision.

    Perhaps I was unclear and I shall rectify that now.

    Also, I agree there are lots of questions to be asked and answered, but I’m just sure glad that someone is asking them because up until today, it didn’t seem like anyone was questioning his decision to shoot.

    And finally, thanks for the comment because it was a well thought out argument.