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MPD officers exonerated in east side shooting

Published On: Jun 12 2014 10:40:22 AM CDT   Updated On: Jun 12 2014 03:53:24 PM CDT
Officers Justin Bailey and Gary Pihlaja

Officers Justin Bailey and Gary Pihlaja

MADISON, Wis. -

Two officers involved in the fatal shooting of a Madison woman on May 18 have been exonerated in an internal police investigation.

Officers Justin Bailey and Gary Pihlaja were placed on administrative leave after the shooting. Bailey has been on the force for five years. Pihlaja has been on for six years. They will be allowed to transition to their regular duties as soon as they are ready, according to a release from Madison police.

A report from District Attorney Ismael Ozanne released this week said Ashley DiPiazza, 26, was armed when the officers asked her repeatedly to put down her gun before they fired. His report said the officers have no criminal liability for firing.

Officers were dispatched to an apartment at 1121 MacArthur Road around 1:20 a.m. for reports of a domestic disturbance. A man told a 911 dispatcher that he left an apartment after DiPiazza armed herself with a handgun.

Ozanne said DiPiazza was seen in the bedroom through the open door with a handgun held to her head. Officers asked her to come out unarmed. She asked to talk with the man who called 911 “one last time,” but was told it was not safe as long as she was armed.

Bailey and Pihlaja fired their service weapons when DiPiazza came out armed and refused to put her gun down, officials said. The report stated she had a gun owned by the man.

The Madison police internal investigation said the officers were exonerated under the department’s policy on authorized use of deadly force.

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