Target 11: DA’s office says electronic monitoring fails to protect public

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — Troubling and alarming comments out of the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office tonight. They claim that the current system that uses ankle bracelets to monitor criminal defendants on house arrest “fails to protect the public.”

This comes after prosecutors played a video conference call from the Allegheny County Jail. In that call that was placed in September, Shawn Davis, who’s now accused of opening fire at the funeral in Brighton Heights, was on house arrest at the time and can be seen in the video removing and replacing his ankle bracelet while speaking to an inmate at the Allegheny County Jail.

Davis is also heard on the call speaking with the inmate about the ease of taking the monitor on and off.

“I tried to show my dad and I took it off and put it back on…Bro, chrome bracelet down on me  bro….Yea it’s the weekend though so I ain’t tripping about my PO (Probation Officer) coming here right now,” said Davis, as he laughs about it with the inmate.

That call was made a month before Davis is accused of opening fire at a funeral in Brighton Heights, wounding five people. Davis was on electronic house arrest at the time after serving nine months of a sentence for aggravated assault with a firearm. Davis was released in June and placed on electronic house arrest.

The video call was played Friday by prosecutors during a hearing for another man accused of criminal homicide. Elijah Taylor-Smith is charged with killing a man in Carrick earlier this year. His attorney claims it was self-defense and she wants him released on electronic monitoring, but prosecutors played that video to highlight what they say is an unreliable system.

The DA’s office sent this statement to Target 11.

“The defense was seeking release of the defendant on Electronic Home Monitoring we opposed in part because we believe the contents of the video show that EHM as currently set up fails to protect the public,” said an email from the DA’s office.

At that hearing Friday, a probation supervisor testified that an alert signal was received from Davis’ monitor before the shooting. It’s unclear how probation officers responded to that alert.

I asked the District Attorney’s office for further clarification about some of the issues, and have not heard back.

Target 11 also requested comment from the court administrator who works with probation. We have not heard back from them, either.

The judge heard some testimony Friday, but agreed to continue the bail hearing until Dec. 14, at the request of the defense attorney. Taylor-Smith’s attorney, Carmen Robinson, told Target 11 she wasn’t aware of the video and she needed more time to prepare for it.

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