Pittsburgh officer fires into car, wounds passenger in South Side incident
By Matthew Santoni
Published: Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, 5:32 p.m.
A Pittsburgh police officer fired into a car and wounded a passenger early Sunday in a hectic closing-time incident in a South Side bar district that has experienced similar incidents in the past few years.
Police arrested driver D.L. Timothy Fullum, 26, of Wilkinsburg on charges of trying to run down the officer when the vehicle struck multiple cars and at least three pedestrians while trying to flee, police spokeswoman Diane Richard said. Fullum, who killed a schoolmate 10 years ago, was charged with attempted homicide against a police officer, drunken driving, illegal possession of a firearm and other charges.
Officer Brendan Nee was placed on administrative leave during a review, which is standard procedure.
Nee was assigned to the South Side on Saturday night and Sunday morning as part of the city's “saturation details,” which bring extra officers to the bar-soaked neighborhood to deal with illegal parking, public urination and more serious crimes in an effort to curb some of the mayhem. Those patrols began in January, partly in response to a police-involved shooting in which officers wounded a Carnegie man and his mother after a car chase onto a crowded stretch of East Carson Street from Homestead.
Public Safety Director Michael Huss said police were dealing with fatal shootings in Brighton Heights and Homewood.
“It was just a very busy night,” he said. “I haven't been briefed on it all yet.”
According to a police affidavit, witnesses saw the 2001 Grand Am strike a pedestrian on East Carson Street near 15th Street shortly after bars and clubs closed at 2 a.m. The vehicle fled the scene and turned right onto 16th Street, where Nee had just finished dealing with a noise complaint.
The affidavit said Fullum reversed on 16th Street away from Nee, striking two pedestrians and a valet tent, then drove forward toward Nee as he ducked onto Roland Street.
Nee fired two shots at the vehicle, wounding one of three passengers in an attempt to stop the car. Witnesses told police Fullum pointed a pistol out the window of the Grand Am and fired several shots as he drove up 16th Street. The vehicle swerved around Nee and continued toward 17th Street, where other officers stopped and surrounded it.
The passenger who was shot, identified in the affidavit as Romance Dixon, was taken to UPMC Mercy with a gunshot wound in the abdomen. His wounds were not life-threatening, Richard said.
Police said Fullum fought with several officers, who wrestled him to the ground at 17th Street and used Tasers to subdue him. Officers recovered a gun and a bag of marijuana from the Grand Am. The other two passengers in the vehicle were questioned and released.
All three pedestrians were treated at hospitals and released. Fullum had a cut on top of his head.
Those pedestrians and other witnesses could not be reached for comment.
Huss said police, firefighters and Bureau of Building Inspection personnel are continuing their beefed-up South Side patrols. City Councilman Bruce Kraus said the South Side's main problem is revelers coming to the neighborhood believing they can do anything there and get away with it.
“Until we understand this is not a policing problem, we will never solve it,” Kraus said. “Until you change the culture, you can't change the problem.”
In February, then-police Chief Nate Harper issued an order prohibiting officers from shooting “at or into a moving vehicles or its occupants unless there are shots being fired from that vehicle.”
Huss said there have been no policy changes since the January shooting.
“In this case, we'll have to review it just like all (gunfire) involving a police officer,” he said.
Last October, Nee and another officer received the “Starsky and Hutch” award at the Sen. John Heinz Law Enforcement Awards for their work in August 2012 to save a man who had jumped into the Monongahela River from the Birmingham Bridge.
Fullum was 16 when he fatally stabbed his friend, Israel Cyrus, 15, during a scuffle in 2003. The next year, his case was moved to juvenile court, where he was found delinquent of voluntary manslaughter and held in a juvenile facility until he turned 21.
Staff writers Bill Zlatos and Bob Bauder contributed to this report. Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5625 or email@example.com.
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