Details about arrest, gunshot unclear; DA reviewing

Updated:

McKEESPORT, Pa. - The District Attorney’s Office is reviewing what exactly happened during a traffic stop earlier this month in McKeesport.


UPDATE: Since our story aired, McKeesport Police Chief Bryan Washowich got in touch with us for an update. Washowich said while not in the criminal complaint, the police report did mention the weapon discharge and the police department was not trying to conceal the fact.


According to Andre Johnson, he was pulled over by a McKeesport police officer on March 9 for traffic violations around 1:15 a.m.

According to police, Johnson refused commands to put the car in park, didn’t follow the officer’s instructions and there was a strong odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle.

According to police records, fearing Johnson may have been armed, the officer said he drew his weapon.

While talking with Channel 11’s Vince Sims on Tuesday, Johnson admitted he wasn’t fully cooperating with police.

“As he was trying to unlock the door, I kept pressing the lock button because I didn’t feel safe. I saw his backup come and I finally let him open my door,” Johnson said.

According to Johnson, the next thing that happened was violent and almost deadly.

“There was an officer’s foot on my face as I was laying handcuffed. Moments later it was silent and the gun went off. I thought I was dead,” Johnson said.

Channel 11 News obtained the initial police report. In it, the officer said, “With my duty weapon remaining in my left hand, I grabbed Mr. Johnson by the back of his shirt and fell on top of him. I holstered my duty weapon and myself and (the lieutenant) attempted to place Mr. Johnson in custody.”

There was no mention of the officer’s gun going off in the initial criminal complaint. However, on Tuesday, the police chief told Sims that “Johnson struggled and they both fell to the ground. The officer’s duty weapon struck the ground while remaining in his hand and an accidental round was fired.”

At that point, police said backup arrived and Johnson was injured from the struggle, not the gunshot.

Johnson admitted his wrongdoing in part of the incident, but he wants to know why the gun was fired.

“Yeah, I was wrong for driving without a license. But it doesn’t give him or anyone the leeway to shoot someone while they’re defenseless,” Johnson said. “In his police report, he said he holstered his gun. How did the gun go off? Justice -- all I want is justice.”

Johnson was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana and several traffic violations. Both sides will go before a judge March 24.