An open inquest into the April 18 Pittsburgh shooting death of Andrea Umphrey will examine how accused killer Alvin Starks was able to escape from police after abducting her; whether a disbanded SWAT team would have responded more adequately; and whether the 50-mile chase was hindered by a lack of consistent radio contact between police agencies, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The inquest next month by the Allegheny County coroner’s office will look at the actions, policies, and procedures of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, suburban and state police departments involved in the incident. It also will explore how Starks, 30, possessed a handgun when a protection-from-abuse order obtained by Umphrey prohibited him from doing so.
While holding Umphrey, 35, and the couple’s 9-month-old daughter, as hostages in his minivan, Starks led police on a 50-mile high-speed chase. Umphrey was killed by a gunshot after Starks’ minivan collided with a stopped vehicle near a Pennsylvania Turnpike toll booth.
An assistant to Coroner Cyril H. Wecht, who has long held open inquests in cases that involve police, said, “Although our office determined police didn’t cause the death, it has been our policy for public safety, health and welfare to look at what could be done to prevent what occurred from reoccurring.”