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Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Leslie Sapp Police-Involved Shooting Case

     In 2014, 47-year-old Leslie Sapp, a resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, found himself on the U.S Marshal's Office Top 20 Wanted List. On July 21, 2014 an Allegheny County prosecutor had charged Mr. Sapp with rape, statutory sexual assault and related lesser offenses.

     Mr. Sapp stood accused of having sex numerous times with an underage girl at his home between April 2011 and May 2014. The victim, just 11-years-old when first assaulted, didn't report Sapp out of fear. She also kept quiet because she didn't want to get in trouble with her mother. On many occasions Leslie Sapp provided the girl with marijuana.

     At the time the charges were filed Sapp's whereabouts were unknown. The U.S. Marshal's Western Pennsylvania Fugitive Task Force took charge of the investigation to locate and bring him to justice.

     Leslie Sapp had a criminal history going back to the 1980s when the authorities in Philadelphia charged him with a series of crimes that included aggravated assault, robbery and various gun violations. Finally, in 1993 following a conviction in Philadelphia a judge sent him to prison where he served ten years of a ten to twenty year sentence. After getting out in 2003 Mr. Sapp continued to get into trouble by violating the terms of his parole.

     In 2013 Leslie Sapp pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited firearm. The judge sentenced him to three years probation.

     At six-forty-five Tuesday morning January 6, 2015, a Pennsylvania State Trooper, a deputy with the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office and other members of the fugitive task force showed up at Sapp's house in the Knoxsville section of Pittsburgh. When the officer encountered the fugitive he displayed a handgun in a threatening manner. One of the officers responded by shooting him to death.

     As it turned out Mr. Sapp was in possession of an air gun that shot pellets. Because it was black and didn't have the orange barrel marker the gun looked real. According to a law enforcement spokesperson, Leslie Sapp held the gun "in a manner consistent with being used against a police officer."

     In April 2015 the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office ruled the Leslie Sapp shooting justified.

     To threaten a police officer with a pellet gun is no different than wielding a firearm that shoots bullets. Mr. Sapp must have known this and was willing to accept the consequences. 

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