Matt Pitt jumped off 45-foot cliff in attempt to elude police
By Gary Lloyd
The Basement founder and youth evangelist Matt Pitt jumped off a 45-foot cliff while trying to elude Birmingham police and Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies during his arrest near Vulcan on Tuesday night, authorities said.
Birmingham Police Department Sgt. Johnny Williams said that when officers encountered Pitt, 30, he exited his vehicle while attempting to leave the television station on Red Mountain. Officers engaged in a foot pursuit atop Red Mountain and one of the officers deployed a taser at Pitt but missed, Williams said.
Williams said that Pitt continued to run to the edge of a cliff southeast of Vulcan and jumped to the ground about 45 feet below on 20th Street.
Authorities were at the base of the cliff and observed Pitt climb from a ditch after the jump and arrested him, Williams said. No officer reported using any force on Pitt, Williams said.
Pitt’s mother, Missy Pitt, posted this message to Twitter on Wednesday night: “Please pray for my precious son!! Bruised and broken leg and possible broken ribs,” she tweeted.
“He is lucky that cliff didn’t take his life,” said Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Randy Christian. “For his family’s sake and for his, I am truly glad he is OK. As I said before, going to jail may very well have saved his life.”
Pitt was arrested Tuesday night shortly after he finished giving an interview to a local television station. Pitt was wanted on felony charges of impersonating a peace officer, but had yet to surrender to authorities.
Pitt remains jailed without bond in Shelby County after a writ was issued for his arrest on probation revocation. He pleaded guilty in September 2012 to attempting to impersonate a peace officer after Calera police stopped him on Interstate 65. Pitt received a suspended 12-month sentence and was placed on unsupervised probation for two years in that case.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s officials say Pitt identified himself as a law enforcement officer in June. A man called deputies to Falling Creek Lane on a report of a found rifle on the edge of woods, where the caller reported having seen people going back and forth between a vehicle and the wooded area.
While he was waiting for police to arrive, two men drove up on ATVs. When the man asked them what they were doing, Pitt retrieved the rifle, gave the man his name and identified himself as a law enforcement officer. A warrant was issued for Pitt’s arrest Aug. 14.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.