BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A Jefferson County jury found Matt Pitt not guilty on charges of impersonating a police officer. The charges stem from an incident in 2013 in Grayson Valley.
The popular youth pastor and founder of The Basement shared his thoughts immediately after exiting the court room.
“I don’t think that will ever happen again, but again I have nothing but nice things to say about the law-enforcement. You know I have, I’m here to reach kids and I know they do that too and so there’s nothing for that. They risk their lives every day. They do their job. And again I’m just so grateful right now to be free I can’t explain it. I don’t know how to put it into words. I’m an innocent man. It has been proven. And I’ve been waiting on this day for a long time. It still hasn’t even hit me yet,” said Pitt.
One of Matt Pitt’s defense attorneys, Nikki Bonner, said a key part of the defense was the testimony of Brad Lunsford. Lunsford was one of the two neighbors who encountered Matt Pitt and Bailey Little in the woods on June 15, 2013 in Grayson Valley. The other man Bonner said Lundsford’s testimony showed he never thought Pitt was a police officer.
“Well Brad Lunsford, he was one of the eyewitnesses that was there and so I think his testimony was key because he was one of the people that was there, he was not related to Matt. He had no relation to Matt, he wasn’t friends with Matt or anything so he was an impartial witness with no bias,” said Bonner.
“He was actually friends with Brandon Bessells. He was the person at the scene who thought that Matt was a peace officer or impersonating a police officer. And he had testimony to say basically that he never thought that.”
Bonner also weighed in on the video tape showing Pitt during a 2012 traffic stop in Calera where police testified he told them he flashed a badge and told them was an officer.
Pitt pleaded guilty in that case and received probation initially which was revoked after his 2013 arrest.
“It was basically they were trying to prosecute him again for the same thing that happened in Shelby County and basically trying to use what happened Shelby County in this case. First of all we don’t believe that he would’ve been found guilty in Shelby County if that case would have been brought to a jury trial like this was, but we did not have the opportunity to do that. He had a different, different counsel a different lawyer, but we would have never taken that plea deal on that case because that was also not impersonating a police officer. The attorney that he had hired didn’t show up. Some other attorney came in and subbed in for him and he was forced into a situation where he had take the plea,” said Bonner. “It’s almost unheard of when you’re arrested when you come up for your first appearance to take a plea.”
Bonner also said that he would advise his client to get rid of the honorary badge. “That badge has caused enough trouble. We’re definitely getting rid of it. I would tell anyone, if you do have one of those honorary badges just put them on your shelf in your house. Don’t even carry them with you at all,” said Bonner.
One of the prosecutors, Will McComb from the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, issued the following statement:
“I would say that I respect the jury’s verdict. We simply wanted to present the facts to a jury and have them make a decision as to what happened that day and that is exactly what we did. They heard both sides of the case, had to sit through a lot of testimony, see several pieces of evidence and videos, and come to a conclusion as to what happened. They did their job and while we certainly hoped for a different outcome we are just happy that an impartial group of people got to hear the entire case.”
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