Pa. security guard acquitted in shooting of unarmed thief

Shooting occured after man reportedly grabbed a bag of money from a delivery truck last October

Aug. 21--An Allegheny County jury on Wednesday acquitted a security guard who shot an unarmed thief in Homewood.

Pittsburgh police charged John Carter, 53, of Penn Hills, a security guard for Triangle Candy and Tobacco Co., with aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person for firing a single shot that struck Edward Brown Jr. in the lower torso. The shooting occurred when Brown grabbed a bag of money from a delivery truck on Oct. 2 on Hamilton Avenue.

Jurors deliberated about 30 minutes before acquitting Carter of aggravated assault. The trial before Common Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III lasted three days. Prosecutors withdrew the charge of recklessly endangering another person before jury selection began.

"I think it was the right decision," said Carter's lawyer, Steve Townsend. "I was very surprised he had to be put in this position, but he feels vindicated and can't wait to get back to his life."

Townsend said Carter lost his permit to carry a gun but will apply to get it back.

Police said Brown walked to the back of the truck that was parked near Baker's Dairy, grabbed the bag containing more than $1,100 and ran. Carter told police he fired a single shot when he saw Brown stop and reach toward his waistband.

"The issue was whether or not he was reasonable under his belief to use deadly force to protect himself," Townsend said. "With all the circumstances: it was a high-crime area, Brown's furtive movements to his waistband ... you look at the totality of the circumstances and the jury's decision makes sense."

An expert on the use of lethal and nonlethal force supported Carter's account during the trial.

Brown, 33, could not be reached. He pleaded guilty to one count of theft in May. Judge Anthony M. Mariani sentenced him to serve two years on probation and ordered him to pay restitution.

Adam Brandolph is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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