Stanton Heights man involved in 2012 shootout with officer found guilty

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Tiant Mitchell wanted the police to come.

He fired his 9mm Glock pistol into the air about 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 12, 2012, he told his wife, because he wanted them to come, and he wanted them to kill him.

But after initiating a gun battle with Pittsburgh police Officer Andrew Baker on Schenley Manor Drive, Mitchell was struck by gunfire in the buttocks and ankle, and ultimately gave himself up.

On Thursday, he was found guilty of attempted homicide, assault of a law enforcement officer, recklessly endangering and related counts. He will be sentenced Nov. 3 by Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Borkowski and faces at least a mandatory prison term of 20 years on the assault of an officer charge.

The jury of nine women and three men deliberated about four hours before returning its verdict.

According to assistant district attorney Michael Sullivan, the incident that morning began as a domestic dispute between Mitchell and his wife, Shawnece Moore, when a man at a bar bought a round of drinks for people, including her.

“That got him mad. Nobody buys drinks for his girl but him,” Mr. Sullivan said. “He’s showing how tough he is.”

The situation continued to escalate until they returned to their home on Millerdale Street. Ms. Moore told police her husband threatened her and their 1-year-old daughter with a gun. She persuaded him to leave the house and walk with her to a convenience store.

While they were walking, Mitchell said he wanted to be killed. “Mr. Mitchell told her his intention was to get the cops there,” Mr. Sullivan said. “He wanted to commit suicide.”

Mitchell fired his gun three times in the air, and neighbors called police.

Officer Baker was the first to get to the scene, and he testified on Wednesday that as soon as he saw Mitchell standing in the road, the man pulled a gun from his waistband and started firing.

Police said they recovered four casings and one live round from Mitchell’s gun. They found 18 fired by Officer Baker.

Defense attorney Lisa Phillips told the jury during her closing that her client didn’t know that the person he was firing at was an officer because Officer Baker arrived at the scene without his lights and sirens on, and the street was dark. In addition, she said, Mitchell never fired directly at the officer, and instead his four shots were aimed at the vehicle.

The officer, who sustained a cut to his lip, did not suffer any other injuries.

Ms. Phillips claimed a hole in the officer’s shirt and bulletproof vest found later — and the projectile recovered from inside them — was caused by a ricochet.

“Officer Baker was struck by a stray bullet,” she said. “He didn't know he was hit. He wasn't hit by a shot. It was a ricochet.”

Ms. Phillips also told the jury members that they should not convict Mitchell of endangering his wife.

“She didn’t even bother to show up to tell you what happened that night,” the attorney said.

But Mr. Sullivan, who had Ms. Moore’s preliminary hearing testimony read to the jury, said it is often the case with domestic violence victims that they don’t want to participate in a criminal case.

“You have to think or surmise that fear is a part of it,” he said.


Paula Ward: pward@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2620 or on Twitter: @PaulaReedWard. First Published August 7, 2014 12:00 AM


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