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Man held for trial in connection with shooting of McKeesport officer

The McKeesport police officer shot in December by a man he was transporting recounted the incident during a hearing Friday.

Geriasimo Athans testified that one bullet that struck him the afternoon of Dec. 20 went straight through his neck, and another, still lodged in his body because it’s too dangerous to remove, missed his spinal cord by less than 4 cm.

Deputy District Attorney Ilan Zur called Athans to testify in the preliminary hearing for Koby Francis, who is charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, flight, escape and gun charges.

Prior to the proceedings, the prosecution added a charge of assault on a police officer, which carries a mandatory penalty of 20 years in prison.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Magisterial District Judge Eugene Riazzi held all charges for trial.

McKeesport police were called to Crawford Village the afternoon of Dec. 20 after Francis, 22, was accused of violating a protection-from-abuse order that had been obtained by the mother of his child.

Officer Eli Tubin testified Friday that he arrested Francis at the housing complex and then turned him over to Athans to be transported back to the McKeesport police station.

Athans admitted on the stand that he did not pat Francis down when he put him in his patrol car. The man was handcuffed with his hands behind his back, the officer said.

During testimony, the officers said Francis became angry while they searched his purple SUV, in which officers recovered a handgun, Zur said.

Francis kicked at the windows inside the car and screamed that officers didn’t have a warrant to search his vehicle, Zur said.

However, Athans said that when he drove Francis back to the station, the defendant was calm and quiet.

When Athans got Francis out of the back of the patrol car, he testified that the man’s hands were in front of his body — still cuffed — and he was holding a revolver. Athans testified that he saw a muzzle flash and immediately felt a burning sensation in his neck.

He retreated, and Francis fired again, Zur said.

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“What I’ve seen over the course of my career is that not everything needs to be criminalized,” he said. “I’ve seen way too much come to the courthouse that should be resolved in other means."