District Attorney Kelly Callihan promised Tuesday that a detailed report will be released – hopefully within three weeks – regarding the fatal shooting of a 27-year-old man by Johnstown police early June 25.
Although the names of the three policemen who fired their weapons have not been revealed, Callihan said that she will disclose them when she releases details of the state police probe into the shooting in the city’s West End.
Elip Cheatham was driving a car that appeared to accelerate at police officers and police vehicles on North Sheridan Street. The police had stopped another car following a separate shooting minutes earlier outside the nearby Edder’s Den bar.
Cheatham died of multiple gunshot wounds, including a fatal one to the chest. The death has been ruled a homicide, and at issue is whether the three officers who shot at the approaching car were justified in using deadly force.
Cheatham’s cousin, Hayward Gaines III, who was a front-seat passenger in Cheatham’s car, has said Cheatham was not attempting to run down the police but was trying to drive around the stopped vehicles to get a wounded man from the earlier shooting to the hospital.
Gaines, 25, of Johnstown, received a minor leg wound and was treated at Memorial Medical Center. The other passenger, Cardell Clinton, 20, of Johnstown, who was in the rear seat, was not wounded when police fired, authorities have said.
Clinton, a cousin of both Cheatham and Gaines, was injured in the earlier shooting. He was admitted to the hospital, underwent surgery and was released June 29.
Johnstown police Chief Craig Foust, following departmental policy when an officer is involved in a shooting, called in the state police to investigate. The state police quickly assembled a team of 15 to 20 troopers to interview witnesses and gather evidence, including the weapons of the three officers.
Callihan, in an interview with The Tribune-Democrat, said Tuesday, “This is top priority. We’re trying to move it along as quickly as possible."
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