Pittsburgh, PA – The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office said bodycam video from an officer-involved fatal shooting last month cleared the officers of any wrongdoing in the death of Onaje Dickinson (video below).
Police said the whole thing began on July 14 when the 20-year-old Dickinson and 15-year-old Myzle Ford fatally shot a man at the Sharon Court apartment complex, KDKA reported.
Police said that Dickinson and Ford lured 30-year-old Joshua Antonio Makhanda-Lopez out on the pretext of doing a drug deal and then robbed and killed him.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said Dickinson had carried out the same scheme several times, using social media to arrange to buy drugs – usually marijuana – and then robbing the dealer at the meet up, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
But after the murder of Makhanda-Lopez, police were able to track Dickinson and Ford down to a house on Frankstown Road, KDKA reported.
Ford surrendered to authorities along with two other people who were in the house, but Dickinson refused to come out.
So police went in after him, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Bodycam video showed Penn Hills Police Officer Jared Rothert clearing the basement of the house with other officers.
The video showed that Officer Rothert opened a door that led into a messy storage room that had another panel that opened into a cubby where Dickinson was hiding.
When the officer opened the panel, Dickinson immediate pointed a gun at him and opened fire.
Bodycam video showed that Officer Rothert stepped back and stumbled on junk on the floor as the suspect began firing.
Dickinson fired three shots that went over the officer’s head as he fell, and he immediately returned fire, and fatally shot Dickinson.
“If he doesn’t trip and lose elevation, if he’s still stationary, he’s probably dead,” Zappala said told reporters at a press conference to announce there would be no charges filed against the officer involved.
Officer Rothert suffered a broken knee and a sprained ankle during the shootout with Dickinson.
Police recovered two stolen weapons at the scene, KCBS reported.
One was the revolver Dickinson fired at Officer Rothert.
The other was a ballistics match to the weapon that killed Makhanda-Lopez, KCBS reported.
Zappala said the gun also matched bullets from an attempted homicide in Spring Hill on July 2 and a murder in Baldwin Borough on May 8, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The weapon itself had been purchased legally but then stolen from a home in Brookline and used in at least two murders and one attempted murder.
Zappala said a lot of legally-purchased weapons end up being used in crimes and he supported instituting criminal penalties for gun owners who failed to report a weapon stolen or missing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
The district attorney credited the bodycam video from the incident for making the investigation easy.
“The body cam legislation passed in 2017. I’m proud to say we had a lot to do with that,” he told reporters. “As I indicated previously, we’re talking about transparency. I don’t have to explain what happened, you guys can see it and the public can see it, and quite frankly, that’s what a jury wants to do.”
Fifteen-year-old Ford was arrested and charged as an adult with homicide, conspiracy, and robbery in the death of Makhanda-Lopez, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
You can see the gunfight in the video below: