Bank robbery suspect pepper sprayed after alleged assault

Posted July 09, 2010, at 3:36 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The woman police say robbed a downtown bank on Tuesday became unruly Thursday night at Penobscot County Jail and reportedly assaulted a corrections officer, Deputy Chief Troy Morton said Friday.

Matisha Pitts, 25, of Bangor was subdued with pepper spray, he said.

“Last night at 7:50, Matisha Pitts, who is being held here on a federal charge, was being escorted in our facility and she became agitated,” he said. “She ended up assaulting one of our female corrections officers. During the incident, our staff did have to use pepper spray.”

Pitts, who is described as tall and heavyset, was being escorted to the bathroom when the alleged assault occurred, Morton said. Several jail officials responded quickly to assist the corrections officer, he said.

“There were a couple of officers who received minor injuries,” Morton said. “One was transported to the hospital for minor injuries and later released.”

None of the identities of the corrections officers was released Friday.

All of the officers involved and Pitts later were decontaminated, or washed and had their eyes flushed to remove the pepper spray residue, Morton said.

Pitts, who was caught on video surveillance tapes, walked into Bangor Savings Bank on State Street around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and handed the teller a note that demanded money, according to court documents. The note said she had a gun in her bag and would start shooting if anyone tried to stop her.

The teller gave her $1,390 in cash and Pitts left the bank and got into a waiting taxi. The taxicab driver told police he took Pitts and two other women to a Market Street address, then to an apartment building on Kenduskeag Avenue.

Shortly after the women reached their final destination, police arrived with guns drawn and quickly found Pitts hiding in an apartment with $780. No weapon was recovered.

Pitts appeared Wednesday in U.S. District Court on the bank robbery charge, and Judge John Woodcock ordered her to undergo a competency evaluation.

An investigation into Thursday’s incident is ongoing, so whether Pitts will face assault or other charges is yet to be determined, Morton said.

The final investigative report will be submitted to Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office, which has the final say on whether charges will be issued, he said.

“It’s not uncommon for pepper spray to be used in the facility,” Morton said. “They [corrections officers] don’t have Tasers or things like that. It’s an easy way to get someone under control.”

When asked why Pitts became agitated, he said, “I can’t guess why she did what she did.”

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