Topeka officer fatally shoots suspect who drew gun. Police shooting is fourth since June.




  • In US
  • 2022-12-01 18:24:46Z
  • By The Topeka Capital-Journal
Topeka police mark off an area in the 2000 block of S.
Topeka police mark off an area in the 2000 block of S.  

A Topeka police officer's investigation into a vehicle blocking an alleyway turned deadly Thursday morning in central Topeka.

The male driver of the car, which was stolen, pulled a gun on the officer, who shot him to death, said Topeka Police Chief Bryan Wheeles.

The names of the suspect and officer, both men, weren't being made public early Thursday afternoon.

The suspect was pronounced deceased at the scene in the alley just east of the 2000 block of S.W. Lincoln, said Rosie Nichols, public safety communications specialist for the city of Topeka. No one else was hurt.

"The officer sought to intercede in an illicit criminal action of a stolen vehicle and was confronted with a non-compliant, armed suspect," said Police Chief Bryan Wheeles. "This incident is both a community tragedy and a demonstration of the risks our brave police officers face every day in this uncertain world."

More:Topeka police officer shot in gun battle after pursuing suspect car from earlier homicide

Police chief: Officer was in fear for his life, acted in self-defense

Just before 7 a.m. Thursday, a uniformed Topeka police officer in a marked police vehicle made contact with the suspect, Wheeles said during a late-morning news conference Thursday near the shooting scene.

The officer had been "patrolling proactively in Topeka in an effort to keep our community safe," he said.

"The vehicle had been observed blocking the alleyway, which led to the discovery of its being listed as a current stolen vehicle," Wheeles said. "During the initial contact phase of the stolen vehicle investigation, the lone occupant of the vehicle failed to comply with multiple, lawful police orders, resisted arrest and produced a handgun. A struggle over the gun ensued between the officer and the suspect."

The officer, in fear for his life and acting in self-defense, fired his department-issued handgun, striking the suspect, Wheeles said.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation was serving as lead agency in investigating the shooting, and planned to conduct an independent review of the officer's actions, he said.

"Once the case file is completed, it will be forwarded to the Shawnee County District Attorney's Office for final, legal review," Wheeles said.

Officer placed on paid administrative leave

Matters that remained under investigation included the number of shots fired, and whether the suspect fired any shots, Wheeles said.

Topeka police followed their standard protocol by placing the officer on paid administrative leave while the death was being investigated, he said.

The department has one other officer on administrative leave, which was linked to an unrelated past incident, Wheeles said.

Officer-involved shooting is Topeka's fourth since June

Thursday marked the fourth time Topeka police had shot someone since June.

"I don't think it does any justification whatsoever to lump all these together," Wheeles said. "I think each one of these community tragedies, for all the involved parties, deserves the weight of individuality."

More:Topeka police fatally shot a man as he tried to steal a car with 2 women and a child in it

In the other situations, officers:

• Shot and killed a man they said charged them with a knife June 24 near S.W. 5th and Holliday Avenue. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay subsequently ruled that the officers acted justifiably.

• Shot and wounded a fleeing homicide suspect in a Sept. 29 gun battle near S. Kansas Avenue and 6th.

• Fatally shot a man they said charged them with a large kitchen knife Oct. 13 after attempting a carjacking outside the Kwik Shop at 4500 S.W. Topeka Blvd.

The KBI forwarded investigative reports on the latter two cases to Kagay's office in mid-November, said Melissa Underwood, the KBI's communications director. Kagay hasn't yet ruled whether the officers acted justifiably.

More:Topeka police acted justifiably June 24 in fatally shooting man who had knife, D.A. says

Contact Tim Hrenchir at 785-213-5934 or threnchir@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Topeka police officer shoots, kills armed man in central Topeka

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