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Trooper's Name Released in Turnpike Shooting Death

The shooting death of former Columbia resident Daryl Berry on the Pennsylvania Turnpike remains under investigation.

 

Pennsylvania State Police have released the name of the trooper who shot and killed former Columbia resident Daryl Berry in what police describe as an altercation on the Pennsylvania State Turnpike on March 7.

Maria Finn, press secretary for the state police, said in an email Wednesday that trooper Marshall Kephart shot Berry in the incident. Kephart said he reacted in self-defense and that Berry turned his dogs loose and then beat the officer with a flashlight, according to news reports.

The incident is under investigation by the state police, said Finn. Kephart was placed on administrative leave for five days after the shooting, according to Finn. He was reinstated on March 13. There have been no allegations of wrongdoing.

Berry's death was the first case of a Pennsylvania State Police shooting death in 2012, according to Finn. Since 2008, 20 people have been shot and killed by Pennsylvania State Police officers. Finn said 18 were legally justified by district attorneys; two are still under investigation.

Finn cited a video in which Kephart's name was revealed by Frank Noonan, state police commissioner. Noonan invoked the shooting at a hearing of the Law and Justice Committee of the Pennsylvania State Legislature as a reason the state police should retain full funding.

“There was a trooper, trooper Kephart, on the turnpike,” said Noonan in the video. “He receives a call of an accident, he responds to the accident. The individual [Berry] has two large Rottweiler dogs, which when trooper Kephart approaches the car, the driver releases the dogs. The dogs attack the officer and then the driver grabs a flashlight and starts beating the officer over the head. The trooper eventually killed him. That’s the shirt the trooper was wearing; it’s covered in blood.”

In the video, he points to a picture of the shirt, which was posted on a large posterboard.

“The reason I want to bring this to your attention is because it illustrates how important it was that the troopers on the road have backup,” added Noonan, “We had someone there in 5 minutes.”

Berry’s mother, a prominent Columbia psychologist, has questioned the police version of events. Dr. Joyce Hamilton Berry that her son was non-violent, had no criminal history and that his dogs were not trained to attack.

She said the state police told her Kephart’s dashboard video camera was malfunctioning at the time of the incident. Police reports from the shooting have not been released.

Finn did not respond to questions about any procedures in place should dashboard cameras fail.

“We do not publicize such information for officer safety reasons,” she said.

In 2009, an attorney in Pennsylvania filed a request for the standard operating procedures regarding dashboard video cameras. The state police initially refused his request, but it was granted after an appeal.

“The request includes specific types of records that relate to a specific piece of equipment used by the PSP,” wrote the appeals officer in the case. “The PSP is directed to provide the records requested.”

Patch has filed a public records request for police reports in the incident and other related information.

St.Louis Woman April 09, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Am I reading this correctly???????? The Pennsylvania Turnpike Police are averaging killing 6/7 people a year and finding they are almost all justifiable? That on its face is incredulous! A good follow-up report would tell us where these deaths occurred, the victims' races/ethnic backgrounds, whether they were armed with deadly force, who the shooters are and in how many instances the cops' video camera was not working. Is this another dimension to the parent/child discussions black folks have to have with their kids: avoid the Pennsylvania Turnpike?
LaVarne Burton April 09, 2012 at 05:45 PM
LaVarne B. Mothers are not supposed to bury their children and minor accidents should not lead to state troopers shooting a driver. That is what happened to Daryl Berry and his family deserves answers. I cannot fathom the family’s pain. They lost Daryl in an inexplicable manner and answers from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) have not been forthcoming. How did a minor accident escalate to a shooting? Why didn’t the officer shoot the dogs? Why wasn’t the trooper’s camcorder working? How could Daryl hit the officer while reportedly holding two dogs? Additionally, what would make Daryl in all of his diminutive size use a mere flashlight to take on an officer with a gun? PSP say the investigation is ongoing. However, the Police Commissioner already told the State Law and Justice Committee that the trooper’s actions were justified (see ColumbiaPatch, “Troopers Name Released in Turnpike Shooting Death”). I was not on that road, but I was a Berry family neighbor for 14 years. Daryl was a caring person who went out of his way to help others and to bring them together. He loved animals and would never abuse them. Like his mother and father, Daryl was entrepreneurial and turned his degree in electrical engineering into a business. Daryl was on the turnpike after being in Columbia to visit his family and was returning to his business in Ohio. His family deserves to know the truth about what happened to make a great family time end so horribly.
Darryl Jordan April 12, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Darryl Jordan This definitely is an unusual circumstance which needs clarification. I pray every day that this circumstance comes to a clear resolution. Let's pray together and tell others to pray in a united front which generates a response from God who is being prayed to. (1 John 5:14-15) tells us, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." No matter the person praying, the passion behind the prayer, or the purpose of the prayer - God answers prayers that are in agreement with "His will". His answers are not always yes, but are always in our best interest. When our desires line up with "His will", we will come to understand that in time that God responds powerfully! Let’s tell one person every day until God responds with a vision to the investigators and evaluators with a road map to a justice destination.
B Vonn September 26, 2012 at 04:01 PM
It sounds like our collective prayers were answered by a full and thorough investigation. It would be a shame to have someone less Christian go and label this as racist in an attempt to incite people. But, in true human nature, that looks like the way the crowd mentality will sway the uninformed reader.
MFumbc September 27, 2012 at 04:13 AM
B Vonn. GET A LIFE! Seriously, what a loser! This person was shot to death on a highway, and all you can do is talk trash on the internet, trying to sound special, when really, you are an outcast, loser with a grudge, its time for you to move on. No more of these comments jerk. GET A LIFE

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