In February, an incident between 39-year-old Mark Daniels and a few Pittsburgh police officers left Daniels dead. At a news conference this week, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala said that Daniels's fatal shooting was justified, claiming Daniels fired the first shots at the officers, AJC reports.
The incident began when police officers started following Daniels because they believed he was acting suspiciously.
Zappala said that after the officers began following Daniels, a gun fight occurred. Daniels was hit in the arm, then began to run and an artery in his arm severed.
“What is certain at this point in the evidence is that the officer was fired upon three times,” said Zappala.
Gino Macioce was one of the officers involved and is on paid administrative leave pending the Allegheny County police investigation.
"Macioce might be dead if he didn't have his weapon drawn," Zappala said. "I think [Daniels] only retreats because he returns fire."
Zappala believes that Daniels may not have known that it was the police who were chasing him, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“It doesn’t make any sense if he knew they were police officers that he would engage the police,” Zappala said. “He has methamphetamine in his system, that’s a violation of his parole. He’s got a handgun, and he is a felon not to possess, that’s five years. Shooting at a police officer is criminal attempted homicide, among other charges. You’re looking at 20 to 40 years. So he’s looking at 25 to 40 years in the penitentiary for engaging the officers.
“A reasonable conclusion would be that he didn’t know they were police officers,” Mr. Zappala continued. “We will never know that for certain because we will not have the opportunity to talk to him.”
Days after Daniels's death on February 11, his family demanded answers from Pittsburgh police at a press conference saying, “They did something to a good guy," according to the Pittsburgh Courier.
Daniels's family and supporters are calling for the city's mayor, Zappala and the chief of police to release copies of the medical examiner's records the police report filed the day of Daniels's death and any available bodycam footage.