Editor note: Our team often debates whether or not we should show the faces of cop killers after they’ve been convicted. Ultimately, we decided we should. We don’t do so to glorify them. Given how many DA’s and judges have gone soft on crime, we want to ensure that if and when the system fails us… everyone knows who is responsible for taking our brothers and sisters.
Nearly 2 full years after his arrest, Rahmael Holt has been convicted in the fatal shooting of New Kensington police Officer Brian Shaw nearly two years ago.
A jury in Westmoreland County found him guilty on all counts, including murder of a law enforcement officer in the first degree. Jury deliberations lasted just over an hour.
John Peck, the District Attorney, has said that he will seek the death penalty for Holt when the sentencing phase of the trial begins today.
“We’re disappointed but we have to respect the decision of the jury,” said Holt’s defense attorney, Tim Dawson. “It was a quick verdict, in my opinion. There are a lot of issues in the case, and now we have to proceed onto the penalty phase.”
Dawson said that Holt maintains he was not the shooter.
He did not testify on his own behalf at the trial and did not respond to questions as he was being led from the courthouse after the verdict.
He also suggests that the convicted murder has a surprise trove of words that he’s going to drop on the public that will change the course of history.
“He’ll have the opportunity to speak during the penalty phase, if he so wishes,” Dawson said. “We felt it was in the best interest of our client not to put on any evidence, to hold the commonwealth to their burden, and that didn’t go so well.”
According to Pittsburgh’s WTAE, prior to reaching their verdict, the jury asked to see surveillance video of the shooting again. Peck said the video was played at a lower quality than it was in the trial. The first two minutes of the video were played. Judge Rita Hathaway asked the jury if that was enough, and they said yes.
Shaw, 25, was shot during a foot pursuit after a traffic stop on Leishman Avenue on Nov. 17, 2017.
Prosecutors said Holt, 31, was a passenger in the vehicle, and that he shot Shaw while running from the traffic stop.
The defense argued that surveillance video from the scene was not clear enough to identify the shooter. The prosecution said the evidence in the case only points to one person, despite no murder weapon being found.
“I wish I could get into the minds of the jurors and determine how, in a circumstantial case like this, they could reach such a quick verdict, but we have to respect it,” Dawson said.
We brought you the news of Holt’s arrest the day it happened, November 21, 2017 – here’s that story:
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The man suspected of shooting and killing a Pennsylvania police officer was captured Tuesday, officials said, ending a three-day manhunt, reported Fox News.
Rahmael Sal Holt, 29, was taken into custody Tuesday morning, the Pennsylvania State Police said in a tweet. However, it wasn’t immediately clear where and how he was captured as it lacked details. A press conference is scheduled for later today.
Authorities filed charges of first-degree murder and murder of a police officer against Holt on Saturday.
Holt is accused of killing New Kensington police officer Brian Shaw Friday night about 18 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Shaw, 25, was conducting a traffic stop when he was shot in the chest. Consequently, he was rushed to the hospital where he later died.
Investigators said they know what prompted the initial traffic stop, but they’ve yet to reveal the information publicly. A reward for information leading to Holt’s arrest topped $55,000 on Monday.
The FBI, Marshals, Allegheny County Police and the Pittsburgh SWAT team surrounded a home in the 5000 block of Ladora Way. They had been following Holt throughout the night as he moved from Duquesne to Homewood and eventually to the home in Hazelwood, reported CBS Pittsburgh.
Three people were arrested for hindering Holt’s apprehension, including his mother, the station says. Four other people were arrested on outstanding warrants.
On Sunday, police arrested Tavon Jamere Harper, who they allege fled the traffic stop after Holt bolted from the SUV.
They tracked down Harper and found him Saturday with $2,500 cash and bags of suspected heroin, according to a criminal complaint.
The next day, detectives filed drug and fleeing charges against Harper. He doesn’t face charges in connection with Shaw’s death.
Shaw’s friends remembered him as a happy, helpful man who loved being a police officer, reported triblive.com.
“Ever since he was 17 or 18, that was all he talked about,” said Shaw’s friend, Allie Wilhelm. “He was like, ‘It’s my calling.’”
“I ran into him about six months ago, he was in uniform and he looked great. He looked happy, so happy,” Wilhelm said.
“He was a great family man and always thought about his community, and always wanted to help anyone he could,” said classmate David Fleck.
Ciara Herbst, Shaw’s friend and former coworker said Shaw’s happiness was infectious.
“He was the most genuine guy,” she said. “He honestly cared about everyone and wasn’t leaving somewhere unless everyone had a smile on his face.”
Chief James Klein of the New Kensington Police Department in Pennsylvania sadly reports the death of Officer Brian Shaw.
Shaw had made a traffic stop for a minor traffic infraction. Reports indicate that the vehicle, a brown older model Jeep Grand Cherokee, was the vehicle involved. It had a temporary license plate (KNP9119) attached. During the traffic stop, the driver of the suspect vehicle fled in the vehicle for a couple of blocks then abruptly stopped and abandoned the vehicle. The suspect exited the driver’s door and fled on foot. Shaw pursued the suspect on foot.
During the foot pursuit, the suspect stopped, turned to face Shaw, drew a firearm and shot him multiple times. The suspect then continued his flight leaving the officer laying in the street.
While the suspect vehicle was apparently used to help the shooter flee after the shooting, authorities report that it has been recovered.
Citizens, who said that several shots were fired, exited their homes and came to render aid to Shaw. He was transported to Allegheny Valley Hospital for emergency medical treatment but succumbed to his gunshot wounds shortly after arrival.
The entire shooting was captured on a citizen’s home surveillance video, which assisted in identifying the shooter.
Police have identified the shooting suspect as Rahmael Sal Holt, 29, reported Action 4 News. A warrant has been issued for his arrest as the manhunt continues.
“I’m asking anybody with any information, as minute as they think it might be, please, please give us a call. We need to find the person who did this,” Klein said after the shooting on Friday night.
Every piece of data is crucial.
“Their department is grieving from the loss of one of their brothers, and if you have any information, please contact 911,” Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Stephen Limani said. “It’s very important that we get any bit of information that we can to find the person who committed this homicide.”
Nicole Drum saw Shaw fall to the ground and tried to save him. She said, “I heard about six to seven gunshots and I heard something hit my house I wasn’t positive until later on that it actually hit our house.”
She said, “I didn’t think twice. I went outside and just ran out there and I probably shouldn’t have ran out there like that because the shooter was obviously still on the loose.”
Drum said it was the right thing to do to help someone who spent his life protecting others.
Pittsburgh police as well as so many others have offered their condolences.
Brian Shaw served the New Kensington Police Department for five months. He had previously served at the Cheswick Police Department, Frazer Police Department, and the Springdale Township Police Department. Officer Shaw is survived by his parents and siblings.
Officer Brian Shaw is gone but will never be forgotten. EOW: Friday, November 17, 2017.
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