Pittsburgh police officer on paid leave after accidental discharge, positive drug test

PITTSBURGH — 11 Investigates has learned that a Pittsburgh police officer who worked at Zone 3 in Allentown could lose his job after an accidental discharge in a police cruiser.

Sources tell 11 Investigates that the officer was given a five-day suspension, pending termination. But a spokesperson for the City’s Public Safety Department released a statement to 11 Investigates indicating that the officer has been placed on paid administrative leaving, pending the outcome of the disciplinary process.

Sources said the officer had responded to a call and grabbed his rifle from the rack inside the vehicle and then accidentally fired a shot into the floorboard of the vehicle as he was loading the rifle.

Sources said he initially attempted to cover it up, telling supervisors over the police radio that he had fired a shot into the grass.

When asked to show supervisors where he fired the shot, he then told them it was inside the police car.

And that officer faced even more trouble after the shooting.

When an officer fires a weapon, they are immediately taken for a drug test and sources said the officer tested positive for marijuana.

Pittsburgh police officers are not allowed to use marijuana under any circumstances, according to Bureau policy.

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Under the city’s new disciplinary policy for police, officers may be terminated for 15 different offenses, including “any substance use that constitutes the commission of an offense under federal law,” such as using marijuana, and “lying” during an investigation.

The new policy that went into place in March states that, “Certain conduct immediately and absolutely threatens the integrity of the PBP’S public duty and responsibility. In the following circumstances, the proper level of discipline is termination of employment.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety sent a statement to 11 Investigates.

“We are not at liberty to discuss personnel issues other than to say the officer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the disciplinary process,” said Public Safety spokesperson Cara Cruz.

Last year an officer at headquarters who tested positive for marijuana decided to retire. Another officer who tested positive for marijuana last year was transferred but allowed to keep his job.

The state agency that certifies police officers in Pennsylvania has revoked or denied certifications for officers who have legal medical marijuana cards because under federal law it’s still illegal for a person to use marijuana and possess a firearm or ammunition.

A Pittsburgh Police officer with a medical marijuana card was the subject of an investigation several years ago.

RELATED COVERAGE >>> Pittsburgh police officer who tested positive for medical marijuana remains on paid leave

The officer was taking medical marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Sources said that officer was disciplined and agreed to surrender his medical marijuana card in order to keep his job with the police department. He remains on the force today.

11 Investigates reached out to the Police Officers’ Union for comment and the president said the current contract with the city prohibits them from making any statements about the officer who’s now facing disciplinary action.

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