PITTSBURGH (AP) - A man will stand trial on
attempted homicide charges for a Feb. 20 shootout in
which he and two city police officers were shot, but
the drug charges that brought police to his home in
the first place were dismissed.
Cecil Brookins, 42, was jailed in Allegheny County
after Chief City Magistrate William Simmons on
Thursday ordered him to stand trial on more than 20
counts, including attempted homicide and carrying a
Simmons dismissed three charges related to 200
grams of heroin allegedly found that day, ruling
police didn't prove the drugs belonged to Brookins
rather than other people in the house at the time.
Police were serving a search warrant to look for
drugs, and to arrest Brookins for failing to appear in
a court case, when the standoff occurred.
Cmdr. Dom Costa testified that Brookins was relaxed
and cordial after Costa coaxed him off the roof and
through a window into an upstairs room. but when
Brookins saw SWAT team members crouched nearby, the
"I followed (SWAT) Officer (Thomas) Huerbin into
the room and saw Mr. Brookins crouched and firing a
silver revolver," SWAT officer Patrick Knepp
testified. "I got down in a kneeling position and
engaged the actor."
But before Knepp shot Brookins five times, Brookins
shot at Costa twice - one shot whizzing past his head,
the second hitting him in the shoulder. Huerbin was
also hit twice in his bulletproof vest, police
Brookins' attorney, James Ecker, said he was happy
the drug charges are dismissed. Ecker said it will
eventually be shown that police weren't justified in
shooting his client, but he stopped short of saying
Brookins said after the hearing that he didn't
"wish to see anybody hurt. I wish there was peace on
Multiple investigations are ongoing into how the
standoff degenerated into a shootout, and why Brookins
wasn't already in jail at the time.
Officials have said Brookins was released from the
county jail due to an apparent clerical error, having
served only 14 days of a 29- to 58-month sentence for
another confrontation with police while carrying an
unlicensed gun and wearing a bulletproof vest.
Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala
announced an inquiry last month into whether bribes
were involved in Brookins' release.
That caught other investigating officials off
guard, including the county police and a committee
that county Chief Executive Jim Roddey formed in late
February to investigate jail procedures.
Headed by former U.S. Attorney Tom Corbett, the
committee was asked to issue a report within 45 days,
but has yet to do so.