Officer testifies man shot first in 2012 Stanton Heights gun battle

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Pittsburgh police Officer Andrew Baker was on patrol by himself about 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2012, when he received a call about shots fired in Stanton Heights.

As he traveled on Schenley Manor Drive toward Millerdale Street, where the call originated, a large truck turned in front of him, blocking his vision.

Immediately after the truck cleared, Officer Baker saw the suspect described in the 911 call, later identified as Tiant Mitchell, standing 20 feet directly in front of him.

“As soon as I started to open my door, he reached in, grabbed a gun out of his waistband and started shooting at the car,” Officer Baker testified Wednesday.

The patrolman exited his car and returned fire as he retreated toward the trunk for cover.

“It seemed like forever, but it probably wasn't that long,” he said.

The gunbattle continued, Officer Baker testified, until he saw the suspect on the side of the road in a ditch.

“I saw his hands come up, and he said, ‘I’m done, I’m done. I’m shot.’ ”

Mitchell, 26, of Stanton Heights sustained gunshot wounds to the buttocks and ankle, and walked into the courtroom Wednesday using a cane. He is on trial this week before Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Borkowski on charges of attempted homicide, assault of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person, and related firearms counts.

Officer Baker, who has been in the bureau for seven years, said he reloaded his gun twice during the shootout, and investigators found 18 casings from his .40-caliber Glock.

They recovered four casings and one live round from the 9 mm Glock handgun they believe Mitchell used. It was recovered later that day in dense shrubbery along the side of the road about 20 feet away from where Mitchell was taken into custody.

As other officers arrived on the scene that morning, Officer Baker said, they realized his lip was bleeding. When a colleague checked Officer Baker over, the men noticed a hole through his uniform shirt, and into his ballistic vest. A bullet later fell out of it.

Aside from the cut, he was not hurt. Mitchell’s wife, Shawnece Moore, who had been walking with Mitchell, was found by Officer Baker lying in a nearby driveway with a bullet wound to her hand.

The incident began earlier that morning when Mitchell and Ms. Moore had a fight.

At a preliminary hearing on the matter in November 2012, Ms. Moore said she and her husband were at their home when he pointed a gun at her and their 1-year-old daughter. She was able to persuade Mitchell to leave the house, though, and they started to walk to a neighborhood convenience store.

As he walked along the street, she testified then, Mitchell fired three shots up in the air and told Ms. Moore he wanted to commit suicide by police.

During Wednesday’s trial, assistant district attorney Michael Sullivan told Judge Borkowski that detectives had tried to reach Ms. Moore repeatedly throughout the day by phone and at the address where she is believed to live, but that they could not get in touch with her.

Judge Borkowski said he would give Mr. Sullivan until today to find her. In the alternative, the prosecutor asked for permission to read to the jury the transcript from Ms. Moore’s testimony at the preliminary hearing.

Paula Reed Ward:, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter: @PaulaReedWard. First Published August 6, 2014 12:00 AM

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