Calhoun Co. Prosecutor: Officers justified in shooting 19-year-old

Posted at 9:42 PM, Jun 02, 2015

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- Two police officers with the Battle Creek Police Department will not face charges for opening fire on a teen last month after the shooting was deemed justifiable by the Calhoun County prosecutor.

The findings of the investigation released Tuesday by Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert found that after examining police, autopsy reports, and dash camera video, Officer Charles Pelfrey and Carl VanDyke were justified in shooting 19-year-old Koddy Campbell on May 10.

Koddy Campbell, 19 (courtesy photo).

Koddy Campbell, 19 (courtesy photo).

Relatives of Campbell called police earlier that same morning on May 10 saying the teen had stolen his brother's handgun and was suicidal.

Officers later located Campbell who was walking on the Linear Park path near the Calhoun County Jail. When four officers in two separate patrol cars approached Campbell, he pulled out a gun from his waistband.

In just 14 seconds, several officers can be heard on dash camera video obtained by FOX 17 yelling at least 24 times for Campbell to drop the gun. Instead, the teen raised the gun toward his head prompting officers to open fire.

Police dash camera video from May 10 shows a Battle Creek officer raise his gun at 19-year-old Koddy Campbell who refused orders to drop his weapon.

Police dash camera video from May 10 shows a Battle Creek officer raise his gun at 19-year-old Koddy Campbell who refused orders to drop his weapon.

“The officers see the hands up in the air, the officers see the hand move, whether at the head or at them it doesn’t really matte," Gilbert told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. "As soon as they see that hand move they should be making the judgment call to fire their weapon because that person is moving that gun somewhere.”

It was determined three shots in total were fired. One shot each was fired by Officer Pelfrey and Officer VanDyke. Pelfrey's shot hit the teen's torso while VanDyke's shot missed. A third shot was fired by Campbell at his own head.

Officer VanDyke originally approached Campbell with a taser before drawing his gun on the teen.

Gilbert said VanDyke and Campbell fired their guns almost simultaneously, which is why only two distinct gunshots can be heard on the dash camera video.

An autopsy ultimately determined Campbell died from the self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, not from the officer's shot, according to Gilbert.

“Why he was shot is because he put the officers in danger and the officers have a right to defend themselves," Gilbert said.

Both officers were placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting, which is standard operating procedure in this type of investigation. The two are now back on the job as of Monday.

Last month, Campbell’s mother told FOX 17 her son had one of the “biggest hearts,” and battled bi-polar disorder for years. According to family, mental illness ran in the family. Campbell was in and out of treatment, and his mother said he never recovered after losing his grandmother five years ago. Campbell apparently texted his brother earlier on May 10 saying he had his handgun, and then a text stating, “I’m done.”