11 Investigates Exclusive: Teen charged in South Side shooting was in police custody 2 months ago

PITTSBURGH — Channel 11 Chief Investigator Rick Earle learned that a teenager arrested on Tuesday and charged in connection with a shooting on the South Side earlier this month was previously arrested by Pittsburgh Police in December.

But sources said he was released because there was no place to put him.

Since the closing of Allegheny County’s only juvenile detention center, it’s been a troubling pattern throughout the county.

Delvon Dobbins, 16, was arrested by Pittsburgh police in Zone 3 for a burglary. Sources said Dobbins, who was charged as a juvenile, also had a toy cap gun on him.

Just last week, 11 investigates obtained exclusive video of an officer who said Dobbins wouldn’t be quiet so he pushed him into a wall while he was handcuffed and shackled back at the Zone 3 police station in Allentown.

Today, that same teen was arrested and charged as an adult with allegedly shooting and wounding a store employee who was taking out garbage on the South Side on Carson Street earlier this month.

Earle spoke with Pittsburgh Police Chief Larry Scirotto about the impact on this case of not having a juvenile detention center.

Earle: “If you had a Shuman, the shooting may not have happened?”

Chief Scirotto: “It goes again to the level or lack of accountability for those who have committed other acts of violence in the city and when there’s not a suitable option for detention then they’re allowed to perpetuate that violence in another form.”

Since the closing of the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center after numerous safety violations more than two years ago, police have complained that there’s no place to house juveniles and they’ve had to release them.

Some are put on electronic monitoring but that’s been problematic as well. Some juveniles have cut them off or slipped out of them and gone out to commit more crimes.

“We want to get them help. We want to get them reformed. We want to get them on the right track, however, just releasing them and putting them back on the street is not the right answer,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Anthony Coghill, who oversees public safety.

“An incident like this is not something we can take lightly,” said Pittsburgh City Councilman Bob Charland, who represents the South Side, where the shooting happened.

Charland said the Shuman Center wasn’t working, and there were a host of problems at the facility. He said juveniles weren’t receiving the proper care, and there were numerous safety violations.

The state ordered the facility to close. Charland said there should have been a backup plan in place.

The county did reach an agreement for a handful of beds at private juvenile facilities outside Allegheny County, but when they are full, there’s no option but to release the juveniles.

“I’m glad we shut it down, but to shut it down without a plan is problematic and we need to move quickly,” said Charland.

Back in September, the county announced plans for a private company to reopen Shuman by the end of last year.

That didn’t happen, and Earle has now learned it’s now been pushed to April, as contractors attempt to complete $7 million in renovations.

As for Dobbins, it’s unclear if he was held for any period of time or if there were any restrictions placed on him when he was released last year because he was charged as a juvenile. Those cases are sealed.

The sergeant who shoved Dobbins while he was handcuffed was disciplined. He received a five-day suspension, a demotion to patrol officer for two months and he must attend anger management classes.

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