North Side man sentenced to up to 15 years in prison for police chase

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A North Side man was sentenced to 7 1/2 to 15 years in prison for leading city officers on a 14-minute, 90 mph chase last year.

Melvin Solomon, 42, pleaded guilty in July to aggravated assault, fleeing, reckless endangerment and traffic charges for the Sept. 29, 2012, incident through Homewood, Wilkinsburg, Penn Hills, Oakmont and Verona.

According to the prosecution, officers attempted to pull Solomon over early that morning at Penn and Braddock avenues.

He fled, he said, because he knew there was a warrant out for his arrest and because he did not have a valid driver's license.

City officers pursued him for 14 minutes -- traveling through stop signs, narrow roadways and eventually into a dead-end alley in Verona.

As officers approached the driver's side of the vehicle with guns drawn, Solomon slammed the car into reverse, nearly striking one of them. Shots were fired at the Ford Explorer, but Solomon escaped. He ended up crashing the SUV and abandoning it but was arrested later at his girlfriend's apartment.

Defense attorney Candace Ragin told Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge David R. Cashman this morning that Solomon did not have a history of violent crime -- primarily drug and theft offenses -- and that the deadly weapons enhancement being sought by the prosecution was unnecessary.

"There's every indication Mr. Solomon was trying to flee the area," she said. "Things quickly went from bad to worse."

For his part, the defendant told the judge, "I never meant to hurt nobody. I've done a lot of things in my life, but I'm not crazy."

But Assistant District Attorney Ed Scheid said that the video of the chase "speaks volumes."

"It's very apparent this defendant made conscious choices and now must face the consequences."

Neither officer involved wanted to testify.

In addressing Solomon, Judge Cashman said, "Your activity was very disturbing. I'm astounded somebody didn't die as a result of your actions."

The prison term will be followed by seven years probation.

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First Published October 9, 2013 8:40 PM


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