Zappala: Use of force justified in December shooting at Pittsburgh International Airport
Jared Brown-Garnham held an 8-month-old baby girl against his chest with his left hand and a 5-inch knife in his right.
As police closed in, Brown-Garnham, 21, began stabbing himself, a video of the Dec. 8 incident released Wednesday by the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office shows.
Though police were fearful of shooting the child serving as a human shield, a state trooper fired one shot into the side of Brown-Garnham’s head. He died in Allegheny General Hospital in the North Side.
“These guys did a heck of a job. They did what they were trained to do,” District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said, declaring justifiable use of force. “They saved that baby’s life.”
Zappala’s conclusion ends a three-month Allegheny County Police investigation into the incident that began Dec. 7 and stretched into the next day. The district attorney reviews all cases in which police use deadly force, Zappala said.
“It’s regrettable that someone lost their life … but I’m proud of these guys,” he said. “The officers showed enormous restraint.”
Brown-Garnham’s relatives couldn’t be reached.
The trouble began after Brown-Garnham’s ex-girlfriend, Ashley Spring, 25, of Fairmont, W.Va., picked him up in Uniontown to take him Downtown. He was supposed to catch a Greyhound bus to Massachusetts, where he was scheduled to testify as a witness to a 2010 murder, Zappala said.
But on the ride to the city, Brown-Garnham of Uniontown received several phone calls and became agitated. They stopped at the Euro Mart in Brentwood about 11:15 p.m. so that Spring and her 3-year-old son could use the restroom.
When she emerged from the restroom, Brown-Garnham accused her of calling the police and took the car with the baby, Bailey Fergurson, in the back seat.
Police issued an Amber Alert and told officers to look for Brown-Garnham and Bailey. Ohio Township police spotted the car on Neville Island and chased it to Moon, where Brown-Garnham rammed several security gates at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Police from several municipalities swarmed the car, and Brown-Garnham began stabbing himself before Cpl. David Watts fired one shot.
The baby was treated at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh in Lawrenceville for injuries to her neck and released the next day.
Adam Brandolph is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.