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DA's role in Pa. police shooting disturbs experts

Plus, how to get involved in Pa.’s redistricting process.


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Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
December 10, 2021
Official conflict, public maps, PSU prez, opposite outcomes, lost homes, greenlit, and why Vietnam's 'Lady Gaga' moved to Pittsburgh. It's Friday!!
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State Police who were engaged in an hours-long standoff with a Beaver County man in 2016 consulted with the local district attorney about whether troopers could kill the suspect. The man was later shot three times by a sniper.

The same prosecutor, David Lozier, then reviewed the shooting investigation conducted by the State Police and found the use of force to be justified.

The overlap has raised serious alarm among policing experts, with one telling Spotlight PA it's a disturbing situation with few, if any, modern parallels.

The case has also become the impetus for sweeping new recommendations to reform who investigates state troopers when they injure or kill. 

THE CONTEXT: Lozier confirms he was at the scene of the standoff, but says he was never asked whether it was appropriate for him to later review the shooting, given his involvement in the decision-making process.

"Looking back on it, maybe different decisions would be made as far as an outside review," Lozier added in an interview with Spotlight PA.

An autopsy later determined that the suspect in the standoff, Ryan Shorak, had shot and killed himself after being shot by the State Police sniper. 

The case is one of the first to be taken up by the Pennsylvania State Law Enforcement Citizen Advisory Commission, which was created by Gov. Tom Wolf following protests over the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

The commission will now consider recommending that an outside prosecutor, rather than a local DA who works closely with law enforcement, be in charge of deciding when to charge State Police who injure or kill.


"It is my obligation to do better."

—Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner walking back a comment he made denying a crisis of violence in the city, which has set a homicide record this year
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» BOOSTER SHOTS: U.S. health authorities have now approved booster shots for anyone who is 16 or 17 years old and got their last shot at least six months ago, the Associated Press reports.

» CLOSE QUARTERS: Cambria County Prison is reporting dozens of COVID-19 cases, with some staff on their third infections, per the Tribune-Democrat. There have been 483 cases there since September 2020.

» MASK VOTE: A pair of conservative Hollidaysburg school board candidates who won election in November played a vital role in Wednesday's board vote to make masks optional in district buildings, per the Altoona Mirror.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your zip code to 438829 (GETVAX).
» LAWFUL VS. AWFUL: Join us Thursday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. EST via Zoom for a free panel discussion on why killings by police often are ruled justified and who oversees the process. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
A loner swan spotted in Susquehanna County. "It has been here on this pond since early fall," said PA Poster Carol MSend us your gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
MAP FEEDBACK: Pennsylvania’s first proposed congressional map has arrived — drawing mixed reviews from redistricting observers. But the process is far from over, with hearings, votes, and public input ahead. Spotlight PA explains how you can get involved

PSU PRESIDENT: Incoming Penn State president Neeli Bendapudi will be the first woman and the first person of color to lead the university, PennLive reports. Her five-year contract includes a $950,000 base salary with $350,000 in annual supplemental income.

TOY GUNS: When a man fired what looked like a handgun at Stroudsburg police last month, officers didn't shoot back, with one recognizing the gun as a toy, per Pocono Record. But questions remain about a similar, nearby encounter with a very different outcome.

DISPLACED: Months after Hurricane Ida damaged some Philadelphia homes, a competitive housing market is keeping affected renters from finding new places to live. The Inquirer says hundreds are still in county-funded hotel stays, while others are sleeping on couches.

CLIMATE PLAN: The Attorney General's office has signed off on the legality of Gov. Tom Wolf's contested plan to include Pennsylvania in a regional program to curb greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. StateImpact explains what might happen next.

FREE WRITING: Author Jorge Olivera Castillo, who was imprisoned in Cuba before being exiled, is the newest resident at Pittsburgh's City of Asylum artist refuge, the Post-Gazette reports. He joins embattled international luminaries, including Mai Khoi, the so-called "Lady Gaga of Vietnam."

BOOK CLUB: A "historically significant" book about grouse and woodcock, written by a retired Pennsylvania Game Commission officer from Bedford, will join the State Library of Pennsylvania's Rare Collections section — never to be touched again, the Tribune-Democrat reports.

SKI SALE: Three Laurel Highland ski resorts owned by Pittsburgh Pirates honcho Bob Nutting will be sold for $125 million to a Denver-based ski resort operator, TribLIVE reports. The sale is expected to close this winter.

TIL: Philadelphia is home to the oldest LGBTQ bookstore in the country, Giovanni's Room, which opened in 1973. Billy Penn examines its staying power and the importance of keeping queer, indie bookstores alive.

LEGENDARY: One of Lancaster's oldest nightlife venues is up for sale. The Village has seen surprise appearances by Gregg Allman, Bruce Springsteen, and more over the years. LNP has a fun stroll down memory lane

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.
Yesterday's answer: Synecdoche

Congrats to our daily winners: Susan F., Don H., Neal W., Craig E., Ann E., Kimberly S., Elaine C., Susan N., Kim C., George S., Doris T., Dianne K., Suzanne S., Bill S., Briann M., Alan V., Vicki U., and Lex M.
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