Family wants answers about death of David Pittarelli

Published 11:16 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2015

By Shavonne Walker

Concord Police have not released any new details days after Kannapolis firefighter Ryan Cochran called 911 to say he shot a man after the two had an altercation in a residential area.

David Robert Pittarelli Jr., 33, was shot multiple times during the April 30 incident and his family say they just want to know the truth behind his death.

Cochran, 22, of Concord, and his girlfriend, were traveling on Concord-Salisbury Road toward Concord in his red pickup when they were followed by a Cadillac. The vehicle followed the couple for several miles and authorities say eventually Cochran stopped in a residential neighborhood at the intersection of Plott Drive and Charing Lane.

The two men got into an altercation and according to the 911 tape, Cochran said Pittarelli pushed his girlfriend and came at him, but did not detail what else occurred to cause him to shoot Pittarelli. Cochran, a firefighter since 2012, has been suspended with pay and has not been charged in the incident.

Cochran told a 911 dispatcher he shot Pittarelli about five or six times. He can be heard in the tape saying he doesn’t know why Pittarelli followed them. Police say neither Cochran nor his girlfriend knew Pittarelli.

Rick Pittarelli, David’s uncle, spoke to a Post reporter, saying the family would like more than the few answers they have been given.

Rick said his nephew isn’t the aggressive person he’s being depicted to be and in fact, would never be violent with women. He said he had no idea where his nephew may have been going or why he followed the pair.

“Nobody knows why this happened, period,” Rick said.

It could be a case of road rage, he said, “but we don’t know what caused it.”

He did say his nephew was into physical fitness and was built like actor Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, but he has a hard time believing any claims of self defense. David Pittarelli, who was known by his family and friends as “Dave” or “Pitt,” was shot at least six times.

Rick said he wished Cochran had driven to nearby Concord Police Department, which is less than three miles from where the shooting occurred.

“Where is the 911 call saying someone is following me and I need you to come out,” Rick said.

He said his nephew, who was found without a shirt and wearing only shorts and shoes, couldn’t have been hiding a gun.

Rick Pittarelli is a former military police officer and a South Carolina police officer and said he has many more unanswered questions.

He said the family has gone through a series of emotions — anger, bitterness and sadness. Rick said they’ve been shown a tremendous amount of support from family and friends. He said his brother, David Anthony Pittarelli Sr., is exhausted and also wants answers.

The last time he saw his nephew was during an Easter gathering. He called his nephew a man of strong faith in God, compassionate and a good father to his 5-year-old son. David lived in Charlotte and worked at a Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, his uncle said.

“We hope that law enforcement will do everything they can to get down to the bottom of this,” Rick said.

A petition started three days ago on, seeking justice for Pittarelli, has garnered over 3,000 signatures.

Funeral services for David Pittarelli will be held Saturday in New York.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.