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DUI team fatally shoots fleeing motorist

| Monday, March 16, 2009

Police shot and killed a 33-year-old man who refused to pull over for a roving DUI patrol early Sunday, authorities said.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Nicholas Haniotakis of the South Side. He died from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and extremities, the examiner's office said. His death was ruled a homicide.

The incident began at 1:32 a.m. yesterday when a Pittsburgh police officer and state trooper on a joint DUI patrol saw a 2000 Oldsmobile Bravada SUV with an Ohio license plate driving the wrong way down 13th Street. The vehicle had a broken headlight, police said.

When police activated their emergency lights, the SUV sped down 13th Street in reverse. At the corner of Wharton and 22nd streets, the vehicle smashed into a parked car. The officers approached the SUV on foot and ordered Haniotakis to show his hands, according to reports.

Haniotakis suddenly backed up, hit the officers' parked cruiser and narrowly missed them. Both fired into the SUV, which sped off and eventually crashed again into a utility pole at the corner of Sarah and 22nd streets, police said. Haniotakis was taken to UPMC Mercy, where he was pronounced dead at 2:07 a.m.

A woman who answered the door at 150 Pius St. in the South Side Slopes area yesterday afternoon said Haniotakis was her godson and lived with her.

The woman, who would not identify herself and was crying, said the police had spoken with her earlier. She declined further comment. Neighbors on the block said they did not know Haniotakis.

Haniotakis had been in trouble before. In July 2005, he struck a Mt. Oliver police officer with a car and then led police on a chase in which another officer was injured.

Almost two years later, he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, fleeing or attempting to elude police, reckless driving, driving while operating privileges were suspended or revoked, and traffic violations. He was sentenced to 11 to 23 months in jail, according to court records.

The police officers involved in the shooting have been placed on administrative leave, as is standard practice, Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Diane Richard said. She did not release the names of the officers.

There have been nine homicides in the city this year, police Cmdr. Thomas Stangrecki said, three involving Pittsburgh police.

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