Man suspected of killing Pa. police chief was charged with homicide in 2015
The charge against Aaron Lamont Swan Jr. was dropped after he agreed to cooperate with the DA's office in connection with the 2014 killing of Leonard Young
By Megan Guza
BRACKENRIDGE, Pa. — The man accused of killing the Brackenridge police chief during a confrontation with officers Monday was charged with homicide in 2015, a charge that was dropped after he agreed to cooperate with the district attorney's office.
Aaron Lamont Swan Jr. and a co-defendant, Justin Bonner, were charged in connection with the 2014 killing of Leonard Young, who was found dead in his car in a church parking lot April 18.
Surveillance footage showed Swan and Bonner in the parking lot interacting with Young and ultimately shooting him as he sat in his Malibu at the Larimer church, according to the criminal complaint filed at the time.
The slaying made headlines at the time because it happened just hours before a peace march calling for an end to neighborhood violence was set to begin.
Bonner told police the shooting and robbery was Swan's idea and pegged him as the triggerman, according to the complaint. A witness also came forward and told investigators Swan admitted to being at the shooting scene with Bonner and "they were only going to rob Leonard Young but Bonner ended up shooting Young," police wrote. "The witness also stated that Swan said that Bonner just wanted a body."
Bonner pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and robbery in February 2017, according to the district attorney's office, which noted that Swan pleaded guilty at the same time to robbery and conspiracy.
"The homicide count against Swan had previously been withdrawn in exchange for his cooperation," the release from the DA's office noted.
Swan was ultimately sentenced to three to six years in prison during a May 15, 2017, sentencing hearing. He was given credit for time-served — just over two years, at that point, court records show.
The rest of Swan's criminal record paints a portrait of a man involved in the justice system from the time he was a teenager and who had a history of arming himself and running from police.
According to a criminal complaint filed Aug. 27, 2014, an officer patrolling East Liberty spotted Swan walking on North St. Clair Street around 5 p.m. The officer wrote that Swan had a black T-shirt hanging from the right side of his waistband and he "could clearly observe the outline of a firearm beneath the T-shirt."
The officer wrote that when his partner made eye contact with Swan, Swan, then 19, took off.
Swan jumped a fence and ran through several yards, eventually stumbling through a shrub and causing the gun to go off, firing a round in the ground, according to the complaint. He jumped a fence and fled into the courtyard of the Angelus Convalescent Center, dropping the gun's magazine along the way.
Residents of the care home who were in the courtyard told the officers in pursuit that Swan ran into the building. He was eventually spotted trying to break out of a basement window, according to the complaint.
Officers waiting outside tried to head him off as he came through the window, so Swan reversed course and ran across the basement where he was met by two officers and their K-9s, police wrote. The dogs stopped Swan, who police said tried to fight one of the dogs by grabbing his face. He was eventually taken into custody and treated for the dog bites before he was booked into the Allegheny County Jail.
Records show Swan remained incarcerated until a non-jury trial in March 2017 in front of Common Pleas Judge Alexander Bicket. Swan pleaded guilty to a slew of charges, including criminal trespassing, escape, taunting a police animal, firearms violations and other charges.
He was sentenced to probation in the incident.
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