PITTSBURGH â€” Pittsburgh police Officer Janine Triolo was in a fight for her life.
She had one handcuff on Ryan Davis, 20, of Lawrenceville, the suspect in an armed robbery on Denniston Street in Shadyside, when Davis began to resist at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, officers told the Tribune-Review. Davis beat the officer’s face and shoved a Ruger double-action pistol into her armpit and pulled the trigger.
The gun jammed.
When Davis reached for Triolo’s gun, the officer unholstered it first and fired. Davis, who was 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighed about 200 pounds, died at the scene of a gunshot wound in the chest, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office said.
The fight left Triolo, 28, who stands about 5 feet 3 inches tall, with a broken eye socket, fractured nose and left hand, as well as a concussion and a detached retina, officers said.
“She was literally fighting for her life. The suspect had already robbed someone, and we believe he was willing to kill her if it meant he would get away,” said Officer Dan O’Hara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1.
“She stood her ground and did her job. She is a hero.”
Triolo, who remains at an undisclosed hospital, is on paid leave while authorities investigate the incident, which is normal in police-involved shootings. The Allegheny County District Attorney’s office will oversee the investigation.
Police said they found Davis’ gun at the scene. City homicide detectives questioned the unnamed robbery victim, who was not injured and did not witness the shooting.
Triolo, a three-year veteran, works out of the Zone 4 station in Squirrel Hill. Officers described her as “soft-spoken, quiet and extremely nice.”
She graduated in the same police training academy class as the late Officer Paul J. Sciullo II, who was killed along with two other officers April 4 while responding to a domestic disturbance in Stanton Heights.
Officers from Zone 5 were initially dispatched to the robbery. Triolo spotted Davis after dispatchers said the suspect ran toward Schenley High School.
“This call wasn’t even in her patrol zone, but she went anyway,” O’Hara said. “She could have waited for the other officers, but she didn’t. She was brave.”
Triolo is the first female officer in Pittsburgh to fatally shoot someone while on duty, said police spokeswoman Diane Richard.
Every year, 60,000 law enforcement officers are assaulted on the job, resulting in about 16,000 injuries, said Craig Floyd, chairman of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Floyd didn’t have statistics on how many of those assaults and injuries involve female officers compared with males. There have been 18,661 male officers killed in the line of duty since 1792, and 237 women have been killed on the job since 1916.
“Women are just as likely as their male counterparts to be assaulted, injured or killed,” Floyd said. “They are taking the same risks.”
Police were involved in eight shootings in the city last year, including four incidents in which officers fatally shot someone, Richard said.
Six local law enforcement officers have been fatally shot in the past 15 months.
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