Penn Hill Police Officer Not Being Charged In July Shooting Death

Aug 22, 2019

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala will not charge a Penn Hills police officer in the July 14 shooting death of 20-year-old Onaje Dickinson.

At a news conference Thursday, Zappala allowed media to review a portion of the police body camera video that recorded the killing of Dickinson. On the video, law enforcement officers enter a house’s basement, saying “Police.” Officer Jared Rothert then walks to the entrance of a storage area, and yells “show your hands.”

From around the corner, three shots are fired, which Zappala said were fired by Dickinson. Rothert returns fire, killing Dickinson.

“Office Rothert sustained a broken knee, strained wrist,” said Zappala. “There’s (sic) obviously psychological issues that come from the taking of human life.”

Police say they pursued Dickinson and his alleged accomplice, 15-year-old Myzle Ford, to a house at the corner of Frankstown Road and Graham Blvd Extension. Dickinson and Ford are suspected in the murder of Joshua Antonio Makhanda-Lopez, who earlier that day was found in his car with three gunshots to the head.

Ford exited the home upon the police’s request. He was arrested and charged as an adult with robbery, conspiracy, homicide and weapons violations.

Dickinson did not leave the house, but went to the basement, according to police. According Zappala, officers surrounded and entered the house, which lead to Dickinson’s death.

“I don’t have to explain what happened,” he said. “You guys can see it. And the public can see it.”

Zappala is not releasing the footage in full due to a related homicide prosecution.