Assault suspect taken into custody after leaving Mercy Hospital

Updated:

PITTSBURGH —

Authorities have taken a man into custody charged with assaulting an officer and possessing drugs.

The incident happened after he walked out of a Pittsburgh hospital where he was taken after complaining of an injury following a police chase.

Officials said 52-year-old Roger Cunningham was found at a home in Millvale Sunday and was apprehended.

Cunningham escaped from UPMC Mercy Hospital Thursday night.

He was charged with possessing heroin and allegedly attacking an officer who had stopped a vehicle in which he was a passenger earlier that day, according to police.

Officers took Cunningham to the hospital after he complained of a back injury.

“He complained of a back injury. He said he was injured and needed treatment. Our police called for medics and they took him to Mercy,” said Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie.

Hospital officials planned to keep him overnight after he threatened suicide, only to have Cunningham leave the facility, authorities said.

“At the hospital, he threatened suicide and hospital reacted to that by saying they might want to keep him overnight. So we decided to release him from custody,” Ritchie said.

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center officials said they aren't responsible or empowered to detain prisoners, who remain the responsibility of police.

A UPMC spokesperson released the following statement: “UPMC has neither the jurisdiction, responsibility nor capability to detail patients on behalf of law enforcement agencies. Prisoners in custody of the arresting law enforcement agencies remain their responsibility for the duration of the arrest process and at no time can that responsibility be transferred to UPMC.”

Ritchie said he thinks there was a misunderstanding.

“We released him. He’s going to face the charges for the incident that occurred last night regardless of whether he stayed or not,” Ritchie said.

Channel 11 News has learned Cunningham has a long criminal history, and the charges from Port Authority police are a parole violation. He’ll be charged for that, but not for leaving the hospital because he wasn’t being held there.

Cunningham’s list of charges includes aggravated assault, resisting arrest and possession of a controlled substance.