Police pursuit ends with Smithfield suspect wounded, thirsty for beer

| Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

A Fayette County man wanted to top off a police pursuit with a beer chaser, according to a criminal complaint.

Police said the Smithfield man fired a weapon at two officers during the 19-minute pursuit and then asked for a beer as he underwent treatment for gunshot wounds in an ambulance.

Sevanaia Lauakilagi Bainimarama, 39, of Smithfield struck a deer during the pursuit that started in Uniontown and tried to run over the two police officers at the end of the chase in Smithfield, police said.

Bainimarama is charged by state police at Uniontown with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, fleeing police and running stop signs.

In the complaint, Trooper Timothy Kirsch said two Uniontown police officers, Kurtis DeFoor and Elliott Fejes, tried to stop Bainimarama's Nissan Pathfinder when the vehicle traveled through two stop signs at Pershing Court and Dunlap Street in Uniontown at 2:15 a.m. Sunday.

The SUV nearly struck a utility pole and ran traffic signals as it fled from the officers through the city, police said. It passed another vehicle in a no-passing zone on South Mt. Vernon Avenue and entered South Union Township on Dixon Boulevard.

Bainimarama is accused of firing at the pursuing patrol car on Walnut Hill Road as the two vehicles reached speeds between 50 and 75 mph.

“Patrolman DeFoor said that while pursuing the suspect vehicle on Walnut Hill Road, he heard popping sounds and saw glass come at him from the rear window of the suspect vehicle,” Kirsch said in the complaint.

The officers backed off, reporting that at one point the SUV “struck a deer and continued to flee.”

The pursuit continued into Georges Township and ended in gunfire when Bainimarama drove onto a dead-end street in Smithfield, turned around and tried to run over the officers, police said.

When DeFoor and Fejes got out of their patrol car on the dead-end street with their weapons drawn and ordered the SUV driver to surrender, Bainimarama instead accelerated toward them, Kirsch said.

DeFoor said Bainimarama “gunned it” and “dust was flying” as the SUV “came right at us,” Kirsch said in the complaint. The two officers “fired their duty weapons at the suspect vehicle in fear of their life,” Kirsch said.

Additional officers arrived, and Bainimarama, who had gunshot wounds to both arms and his right hand, was taken into custody. As they waited for an ambulance, Bainimarama told a police officer he had no intention of stopping during the pursuit, according to the complaint.

“Once inside the ambulance, the defendant said, ‘Can I have a beer?' ” Kirsch wrote in the complaint.

“Patrolman Shandor said, ‘What did you say?' ” Kirsch wrote. “In response, the defendant repeated himself and asked a second time, ‘Can I have a beer?' ”

Kirsch said Bainimarama “had a strong odor of alcohol emanating from his breath,” but he is not charged with any alcohol-related offenses.

Bainimarama was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, W.Va., according to Trooper Stefani Plume.

He was arraigned on Monday before Uniontown District Judge Michael Metros and placed in the Fayette County Prison in lieu of $300,000 bond.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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