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By Katie Roenigk
Riverton Ranger Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Man who accidentally shot wife is corrections officer

 

January 28, 2021



RIVERTON — The Riverton man who fatally shot his wife at their home in November is an officer for the Wyoming Department of Corrections.

Michael Pitt accidentally killed his wife, Lisa Pitt, on Nov. 23 in Riverton, and will not face charges, according to a Jan. 15 announcement from Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun.

Without a felony conviction, Michael Pitt is legally allowed to carry a firearm.

Michael Pitt’s status with the WDOC will be determined by the Wyoming Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, state officials said this week.

Accepted grounds for the denial, suspension or revocation of certification in the POST rulebook include:

• a felony conviction

• an order from a court

• the unlawful use, possession or distribution of controlled substances or other drugs

Other grounds for the denial, suspension, or revocation of peace officer, detention officer, dispatcher or correctional officer certification include:

• committing a criminal offense

• willfully falsifying information to obtain or maintain certification

• having a physical or mental condition which substantially limits their ability to perform their duties or poses a direct threat to the health and safety of the public or fellow officers

• being under the influence of alcohol beverages while on duty, the excessive use of alcoholic beverages, or a conviction for driving while under the influence of alcohol

• failing to comply with POST rules

• participating in conduct which undermines public confidence in law enforcement, including but not limited to sexual harassment, discriminatory conduct, and falsifying reports

• failing to meet minimum standards for employment

• failing to meet minimum training requirements

The WDOC already was conducting an unrelated internal investigation into Michael Pitt before he fatally shot his wife, according to transparency division deputy administrator Paul Martin.

Citing the ongoing internal investigation, Martin said the WDOC “cannot speak specifically to this individual’s actions or any local events he may have been involved in.”

For “security reasons,” Martin also could not confirm Michael Pitt’s position as a member of the WDOC Special Operations Response Team.

In an interview with RPD detective James Donahue, Michael Pitt said he had been through firearms training in the military, with the WDOC, and for the WDOC SORT team.

He has worked most recently at the Wyoming Honor Farm in Riverton.

Donahue had asked about Michael Pitt’s training background after Michael Pitt outlined the series of events leading up to the Nov. 23 shooting.

“He said he was walking into the bedroom after having retrieved his Glock 9mm pistol,” Donahue wrote. “He demonstrated carrying the pistol, and it appeared his trigger finger was curled into the place where it would contact the trigger of the pistol.”

Based on Michael Pitt’s level of training, Donahue wrote, “Michael understands firearms safety and knows he needs to keep his finger off of the trigger of a weapon, unless he is justified to shoot.”

Donahue then asked Michael Pitt “what he thinks he could have done to negate this shooting.”

“Michael said he thinks he should have cleared the weapon, making it safe before moving it between rooms,” Donahue wrote. “He also said he could have carried it in a high port position, demonstrating carrying it upward toward his head.”

During this second demonstration, Donahue said Michael Pitt’s trigger finger was, again, “curled in toward where the trigger of the pistol would have been.”

“I pointed this out and he corrected it and stated, ‘I know, I have to keep my finger off of the trigger,’” Donahue wrote.

On Dec. 14, Donahue again spoke with Michael Pitt, who said “he wants to go back to work, but does not want to ever carry a gun again.”

“He said he has given all of his firearms to his friend and can’t even wear a shirt with a gun on it as it triggers him and he breaks down,” Donahue wrote. “Michael said that if he goes back to WDOC for work, he will not be a firearm carrier and will resign from the SORT team.”

The Fremont County Coroner says Lisa Pitt died Nov. 23 of a “single perforating gunshot wound” to the trunk.

When they arrived at the scene, officials said Michael Pitt was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Lisa Pitt, who had no pulse. Responding medical technicians said “there was no longer any need to continue CPR,” according to reports.

Donahue said Michael Pitt was “detained” and taken to the police station with Brendan Pitt for questioning, but RPD Lt. Wes Romero said Michael Pitt likely was not restrained or locked in the building.

“Just based on what had happened, they wanted to bring him in and talk to him – not completely as a suspect at that time,” Romero explained Tuesday. “That’s standard – on anything suspicious they’ll bring (someone) in on, basically, a volunteer basis … to talk.”

Once people are arrested, Romero said they are able to utilize their Miranda rights and “have a tendency to say, ‘I’m not going to talk to you.’”

When Donahue arrived at the police department Nov. 23, he said “Michael Pitt was pacing in the patrol room.”

Michael Pitt agreed to speak with Donahue in the RPD interview room, and their discussion was audio and video recorded, according to Donahue’s report.

Donahue also indicated that he read Michael Pitt his Miranda warnings and said Michael Pitt signed an RPD Miranda Waiver form.

“He verbally agreed to speak with me without legal representation,” Donahue wrote.

Later that night, Donahue said, Michael Pitt and Brendan Pitt “went to Michael’s parents’ house.”

 
 

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