DA: Cop who fatally shot Lake Winola man won't be prosecuted
Jan 28, 2013 (The Citizens' Voice - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
A Tunkhannock Township police officer who fatally shot a Lake Winola man while serving a mental health warrant last fall will not be prosecuted, the Wyoming County district attorney's office announced today.
Brian P. Williams, who was swinging a fireplace poker at officers, was shot twice by Tunkhannock Township police Officer Mark Papi on Nov. 7, said Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell. Community Counseling Services had contacted the Wyoming County 911 Center at 1:42 p.m., requesting that a mental health commitment be served on Williams because he had threatened to kill his wife.
"Even if, for the sake of argument, this office desired to prosecute (Officer) Papi, it is clear the Commonwealth would never be able to meet its burden of proof at trial," said Mitchell.
There was not a single eyewitness that could prove Papi acted with criminal intent, he said.
"There is also a lack of corroborating evidence to prove such intent," Mitchell said. "Officer Papi acted in self defense pursuant to the law and shall not be prosecuted for a criminal offense."
Overfield Township police were first on the scene and immediately requested assistance from surrounding police departments which arrived within an hour and met to discuss a strategy, Mitchell said.
A perimeter around the home was established to keep Williams from escaping, and Tunkhannock Township Police Chief Stanley Ely established a rapport with Williams. A statement from the DA's office notes that at the time, Williams became increasingly agitated and refused to cooperate, and was adamant that he would not be taken into custody for mental health treatment.
Police acquired a key to the home from the Williams' family, and a group of six officers, including Papi, assembled at the front door to enter the home. The officers located Williams in a bedroom with the door closed and made repeated requests for him to open the door but he refused to do so.
Tunkhannock Borough Police Patrolman Robert Roberts began pushing on the door with Papi behind him.
According to the statement, the door gave way and the officers fell into the room with Roberts falling into Williams.
Williams then got up, and according to the DA's statement, had in his hand a fireplace poker about two feet long with a pointed end that he swung at officers. The officers then unsuccessfully used a Taser on Williams three times to subdue him.
Papi repeatedly ordered Williams to drop the poker. When he did not, Papi drew his weapon, according to the statement.
Williams then stepped towards Papi and Roberts, neither of whom were wearing helmets, and Williams began swinging the poker toward Papi's head, according to the statement.
As Roberts reached for his weapon, Papi fired twice at Williams. Williams then fell onto the bed and rolled onto the floor. Officers attempted to revive Williams and an ambulance was called at 3:58 p.m.
The coroner pronounced Williams dead at the scene. A Nov. 8 autopsy found that one bullet entered and exited Williams' right hand, then entered his left arm where a bullet was recovered. The other bullet entered and exited his right arm, then entered his chest, perforating his right lung and penetrating his heart.
Pennsylvania state police and Wyoming County DA's office initiated the investigation of the fatal shooting.
Mitchell offered condolences to the Williams family, and said, "While there was no criminal intent to kill Mr. Williams, mistakes were made while serving the mental health warrant. ...In the hope that this tragedy will not be repeated, this office will be meeting with the police departments involved."
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