Homewood man pleads guilty in police officer shooting

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PITTSBURGH —

A 20-year-old Homewood man pleaded guilty Tuesday to several charges stemming from a police-involved shooting last year.

Authorities said Dante Bonner, who shot and wounded Pittsburgh police officer Christopher Kertis, faces 42-84 years in prison when he’s sentenced on Sept. 4.

Bonner pleaded guilty to attempted homicide, recklessly endangering another person, carrying a firearm without a license, receiving stolen property, unlawfully possessing a firearm and assaulting a law enforcement officer. The last charge carries a 20- to 40-year mandatory sentence.

"Not to be presumptuous but Judge Lazzaro will sentence him to a state sentence that's 20-40 years on each of the counts. Now she can run them concurrently or she can run them consecutively but he will do no less than 20 years in jail,” WPXI legal analyst Phil DiLucente said Tuesday.

Police said Bonner was among a group of people causing a disturbance at the Sunoco gas station on Frankstown Road in Homewood while officers Kertis and Charles Thomas were working a traffic detail about 3:45 a.m. on March 17, 2013.

Bonner and three other people got into a blue Dodge Avenger, which the officers later pulled over in a parking lot at the Port Authority East Busway near the intersection of Fifth Avenue and McPherson Boulevard. Bonner ran from the car, and Kertis ran after him.

During the chase, Kertis tripped over a parking barrier, breaking both of his wrists, and Bonner fired a gun and struck the officer twice in the left leg.

Kertis and Thomas returned fire, hitting Bonner several times in the upper torso. Kertis, who joined the force in 2011, received the Above and Beyond Award for heroism for his actions.

Authorities said surveillance video proved to be a critical part of the case.

"In this particular case it raises to a different level because there was actually intent shown. There was a shot made upon a police officer it wasn't accidental it wasn't mistaken,” DiLucente said.

Kertis returned to duty last week after District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. declared that he used justifiable deadly force when he shot and killed 29-year-old Adrian Williams on April 21 in Wilkinsburg. A police spokeswoman said Kertis is now assigned to the robbery squad.

On his way out of court Tuesday, Bonner uttered an expression directly at Kertis.

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.