Prosecutor Explains Why Officer-Involved Shooting Was Justified

Posted at 7:16 PM, May 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-24 21:11:07-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Kalamazoo County prosecutor Jeff Getting says Sergeant Sean Gordan shot Jacob Grassley twice on January 24th.

Grassley died from his injuries which were sustained at the Best Western Hotel on Cork Street.

Friday, the prosecutor explained why he believes Gordon, a 15 year veteran, acted appropriately.

At a press conference Friday afternoon, Getting laid out what happened that day, January 24th.

Police were called to Grassley’s home twice that same day.

Grassley’s girlfriend reported being hit by him with a roll of wrapping paper, which drew blood. When police arrived Grassley had already taken off.

Grassley’s girlfriend said he came back home and took their three firearms. The prosecutor said one of them, an SKS rifle, can pierce the armored vests worn by police.

When police came back to the home the second time, Grassley was already gone.

His girlfriend told police that Grassley had been acting strangely. He’d been smoking marijuana, but he had trouble getting a hold of the drug for the past couple nights, making him more irritable.

Grassley, who has a criminal record in Ohio, reportedly told her that he “did not want to go back to jail.”

Police also spoke with Grassley’s mother, Dorothy, on the phone. She said she was worried that he would kill himself and told police  that “he knows how to use guns.”

That evening, police lodged Grassley’s girlfriend and their 2 year old daughter at the Best Western.

The prosecutor said Grassley tried calling her, and she ended up telling Grassley where she was.

Police spotted his vehicle that night, and he took them on a high speed chase. It ended at the Best Western.

“When the police entered the hotel, they immediately began yelling at Mr. Grassley to stop. Mr. Grassley continued to ignore police orders,” Getting read his brief.

He was shot in the buttocks and torso.

The prosecutor read:

“The decision that Sergeant Gordon had to make was to either allow an unstable person who had every reason to believe he was armed with multiple weapons to flee into a crowded hotel to seriously injure or kill [his girlfriend] or other hotel guests, or to use his firearm in defense of himself, the occupants of the hotel and other members of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. Sergeant Sean Gordon chose to fire his weapon.”

After the incident, Grassley’s girlfriend reportedly told police, “The last thing he said to me was that he was going to die because of me.”

That was uttered moments before he was shot. Getting said a black item was spotted in Grassley’s hand before the shooting. It was his cell phone.

One handgun was found in Grassley’s car. A couple of days later, the prosecutor said the other two firearms were turned in by a man who said Grassley had given them to him the day he was killed.

Chief Jeff Hadley said Sergeant Gordon was on leave and will likely return to work after the Memorial Day weekend.