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Killer Cop Shoots Second
by Nate Harper Friday, Mar. 20, 2009 at 3:50 PM
State Trooper Shoots Unarmed Driver on the Pittsburgh's Southside. Police officials
On Christmas Eve in 2002, PA State Trooper Samuel Nassan shot and killed Michael Ellerbe, an unarmed 12-year-old in Uniontown PA. Nassan said that he thought that the boy, who had emerged from a stolen car took a shot at his partner. It turns out that it was Nassan’s partners own gun that had gone off accidentally while he was stumbling over a fence.
Police officials and state trouper union officials form the PA State Troopers Association defended the shooting. But a federal jury disagreed. Last year the victim’s family was awarded $12.5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Unfortunately this isn’t the only time Nassan’s bad judgment and temper got the best of him. He’s been sued numerous times over the past several years for false arrest, assault, excessive force, fabricating charges, fabricating dates, and malicious prosecution.
But through the years of lawsuits and citizen complaints, the state was unwavering in its support for Sam Nassan. He wasn’t fired or taken off the streets. State authorities continued to defend his actions in the public and in the courts.
On St. Patrick’s Day weekend, Nassan struck again. This time the blow was, once again, fatal.
Nassan was involved in a traffic stop on the Southside. During the stop, in an apparent attempt to get away, the driver backed his car up, bumping Nasssan’s car. Rather than hopping in his car and following the driver (Nassan had already called in the license plate) or taking steps to immobilize the car, Nassan opened fire on the driver on a crowded Carson Street. He and a Pittsburgh Police Officer shot the driver four times killing him.
Officials from the Citizen’s Police Review Board (CPRB) have called Nassan’s actions, in opening fire on an unarmed man on a crowded street, outrageous. But the CPRB is unlikely to take any substantive steps in addressing the incident. It would be surprising if Nassan even bothered to show up for a CPRB hearing.
And once again, State Trooper’s Association officials are rallying to the killer cop’s defense. Eric Stoltenberg, a lawyer from the PA State Trooper’s Association told the Post Gazette that the shooting was “absolutely appropriate, make no mistake about that… this is an incident where both the trooper and the Pittsburgh officer handled this absolutely on the money.”
In this case, nobody’s hands are clean.
Nassan already has blood on his hands for killing one unarmed kid. The Trooper’s Association already has blood on its hand for defending Nassan and countless other killer cops. Colonel Frank Pawlowski, the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania State Police has blood on his hands for leaving Nassan on the streets. The CPRB has blood on its hands for not doing anything to get this rogue cop off our streets. And Pittsburgh Police Chief has blood on his hands for allowing these rogue killer cops into his jurisdictions.
We can’t keep letting people get gunned down by cops on our streets. We must hold all of these armed thugs accountable. Established channels of litigation and public reporting have failed us. We must take steps to engage these thugs directly, to hold them accountable and stop their aggressive, violent, and illicit behavior.