A North Side man pleaded guilty Friday morning to several charges stemming from a September police chase in which he nearly ran over a city officer, leading police to fire at the vehicle.
Melvin Solomon, 42, pleaded guilty to charges of aggravated assault, fleeing, reckless endangerment and traffic violations. A charge of attempted homicide was dropped in the plea deal, his attorney, Candace Ragin, said.
Mr. Solomon could face up to 29 years in prison and $45,235 in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 10.
He told Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman on Friday that he entered the plea because, "It's the right thing to do."
The incident leading to the plea began during the early morning of Sept. 29, when city police Officers Matthew Schutz and Andrew Baker attempted to stop a Ford Explorer at Penn and Braddock avenues, according to a criminal complaint.
Mr. Solomon later told police he was nervous because he knew there was a warrant for his arrest, following a probation violation, and decided to flee.
What followed was a 13-minute pursuit through Homewood, Wilkinsburg, Penn Hills, Oakmont and Verona at speeds exceeding 80 mph, assistant district attorney Ed Scheid told Judge Cashman.
When the SUV finally pulled into a dead-end alley in Verona, the officers pulled behind the vehicle and exited, with weapons drawn. Mr. Solomon later told police that he had again thought about surrendering and just going to jail.
Instead, Mr. Solomon ignored repeated instructions to turn off the vehicle and show his hands. He attempted to back out of the alley between the police vehicle and a parked truck -- where Officer Schutz was standing.
Officer Schutz "discharged his firearm at the vehicle believing he would be struck and killed by it," court documents said. The officer dove behind the police car to dodge the SUV. Officer Schutz fired about eight shots, Mr. Scheid said.
When Officer Baker could no longer see his partner, he shot at the Explorer, believing Officer Schutz had been hit by the SUV, the criminal complaint said. He fired two shots, Mr. Scheid said.
After leaving the alley, Mr. Solomon wrecked in an intersection and fled on foot, and officers were unable to locate him.
Mr. Solomon went to his girlfriend's apartment and told her he had wrecked her SUV following a police chase and urged her to tell police it had been stolen. Police located Mr. Solomon at her apartment, with the couple's toddler, and arrested the man there. His girlfriend was not charged.
Lexi Belculfine: email@example.com or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc. First Published July 12, 2013 4:45 PM