Editor's Note: This story was modified at 5:30 p.m. to correct background information about the shooting incident. I apologize for the error.
The death of a North Strabane man who was shot and killed by police in 2010 after a pursuit was deemed “suicide by cop,” Washington County Coroner Tim Warco announced Friday.
The announcement came at the conclusion of an inquest into the death of Kelly Duane Smith, who was shot in the chest and hand by officers after they said they saw him retrieve a handgun from the glove compartment of his car and began to load it when the chase had come to an end.
Warco said after the inquest that “suicide by cop” is when a suspect “forces the hand” of officers.
“(Smith) cried out, ‘Shoot me,’” Warco added.
After crashing his car near the Kopper Kettle in South Strabane, Kelly reportedly pointed a gun at officers, who shot and killed him, according to WPXI-TV.
District Attorney Steve Toprani thanked the coroner and told reporters that the investigation into Smith’s death was investigated thoroughly, and had been treated like a homicide.
But he acknowledged that it was a tough decision—both for Smith’s family and the officers involved.
“These decisions are difficult to make,” he said. “The police are sympathetic of this loss as we are.”
And he said that no action would be taken against the police officers involved in the shooting, describing their actions as “justifiable use of force.”
“We will not be going any further,” Toprani said.
Smith’s family was visibly upset by the conclusion, with one member telling reporters that police could have and should have used force.
His aunt, Pat Ledger, said the process has been long and drawn out—and that what police told her right after her nephew’s death was different than the final outcome.
Asked to elaborate, she declined.
“We don’t want to be on the news,” she said. “We just want the truth.”