07/22/2006

Pa. man under bed shot by officer

By Manuel Gamiz Jr.
The Morning Call
Copyright 2006 The Morning Call, Inc.

The man who was shot by a Moore Township police officer last week in a Whitehall Township apartment was hiding under a bed and pointing a loaded handgun at the officer, according to court records.

Daryl J. Walbert, 26, with no known address, who was shot in the upper body Friday, was placed in intensive care in St. Luke's Hospital-Fountain Hill, and remains there in serious condition, hospital officials said Wednesday.

A day after being shot, he was charged with two counts each of aggravated assault, possessing an instrument of crime, possessing prohibited offensive weapons and simple assault.

Investigators with the Lehigh County district attorney's office and state police at Bethlehem are continuing their probe into the shooting and have released little information about what happened Friday afternoon at the Whitehall Commons complex.

The unidentified Moore officer was at the 3 Maryland Circle complex to investigate a burglary and an attempted burglary that happened earlier in his jurisdiction, according to Moore Township acting Chief Jim Cavallo.

A witness to the Moore crimes gave police a detailed description of a car involved and its license plate number, which led them to Walbert, Cavallo said.

According to court records:

The Moore officer went to Apartment 315 at 2:30 p.m. to try and speak to Walbert. The officer spoke to Dana Deppe, who was leaving the apartment, and she said Walbert was not inside and refused to let in the officer. A Whitehall officer, who has not been identified, arrived to assist the Moore officer.

Deppe called Brian Shaneberger, the renter of the apartment, and told him the situation. Shaneberger spoke to the Moore officer, giving him permission to enter his apartment to see if Walbert was inside. The Moore officer, the Whitehall officer and Deppe entered together.

The Whitehall officer looked under a bed and the Moore officer said he saw a man underneath. The Moore officer ordered, "Let me see your hands, let me see your hands," and yelled "Gun!" according to the Whitehall officer's statements on the affidavit of probable cause.

"The Moore Township officer, being in imminent fear of serious bodily injury or death, discharged his weapon striking Walbert once in the upper body area," the affidavit says.

Whitehall police officers, some armed with shotguns and wearing layers of armor, swarmed the third-floor apartment. Walbert was flown to the hospital and a woman was handcuffed, placed in a police cruiser and taken from the scene.

State police served a search warrant and found a loaded handgun, the affidavit says.

Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin and Trooper William Ortiz, who is handling the case, could not be reached for comment.

Cavallo said he talks to his officer two to three times a day and described him as "pretty shaky." Cavallo, a 17-year Moore veteran, said this is the first time he can remember a Moore officer using deadly force -- though there have been a few times when officers came close, he said.

Cavallo said he hopes to get approval for the officer to go on administrative leave with pay pending the results of the district attorney's investigation. "I want to make sure this officer has some time" to get through this, he said.

manuel.gamiz@mcall.com

610-820-6595

Reporter Michael Duck contributed to this story. 
 
July 20, 2006

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