PITTSBURGH —The Allegheny County district attorney has released dashcam video of a wild, frightening chase that prompted an Amber Alert and ended with the suspect shot being and killed by police.
“The officers otherwise acted in accordance with their training, they followed the appropriate use-of-force continuum, they showed tremendous restraint and they probably saved that baby’s life,” District Attorney Stephen Zappala said Wednesday.
The incident took place in the early-morning hours of Dec. 8. Zappala said it started in Uniontown when Jared Brown-Garnham was with his ex-girlfriend, Ashley Spring, who was giving him a ride to Pittsburgh.
According to Zappala, Brown-Garnham was a key witness for the prosecution in a murder trial in his home state of Massachusetts and was due back in court to testify. Zappala said Garnham received some information during the car ride with Spring that his life may have been in danger as a result of his testimony, and Zappala said Spring believed that is what set him off.
Zappala said Spring feared for her safety and told him she needed to stop to use a restroom in Brentwood, but was planning to escape. The DA said Garnham followed her into a convenience store, accused her of trying to dial 911 and, after the two argued, he took off with the woman’s car and her 8-month-old daughter in the back seat, prompting an Amber Alert to be issued.
The high-speed chase moved west and ended at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Pennsylvania State Police and other officers from local departments pursued the vehicle as it drove erratically, as seen in video provided by Zappala. Brown-Garnham crashed into a gate at the airport that led to a runway, and that’s when officers were able to surround his vehicle.
Video shows the officers communicating with Brown-Garnham at gunpoint while he waved a knife at officers, the baby and repeatedly stabbed himself. At times, he pulled the child onto his lap and to his chest while stabbing himself. Brown-Garnham also held the knife to the baby’s throat and told officers he would use her as a human shield.
“He’s swearing at them,” Zappala said. “He’s saying, ‘Kill me, kill me.'”
A state trooper was able to break the back windshield of the car in preparation to shoot the man, because officers said they feared he would kill the child. Once the baby laid her head down, an officer opened fire less than 20 inches from Garnham’s head, killing him. Zappala said an autopsy revealed cocaine in the man’s system.
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.
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.
The unnamed officer fatally shot Jared Brown-Garnham, 21, in the head in a car at a gate on the Moon side of the airport about 2 a.m. Mungo said Brown-Garnham was the ex-boyfriend of the child’s mother, whom she did not identify, but was not related to the child, identified in an Amber Alert as Bailey Fergurson.