Prosecutor: Wyoming police officer justified in fatal shooting

Posted at 10:29 AM, Oct 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-11 21:30:33-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Kent County Prosecutor has ruled that an officer-involved shooting in Wyoming was justified.

"All I can do is look at through the eyes of the officer, and this is what he’s confronted with, this is what he knew, and he was more than justified doing what he did," said Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth.

Sadiq Bishara-Abaker Idris was shot and killed by Officer Chad Wells on Sept. 7 on 32nd Street near Madison SE about 7:30pm after Idris stole a handgun from Al and Bob's Sports on Division about an hour and a half earlier that day.

Wyoming Police Chief James Carmody says Officer Wells returned to work last week and will slowly return to patrolling, following their internal support and protocol.

“It is very, very traumatic, this is not what we set up to do every day, this is not what we wake up to do every day," said Carmody. "We pay particular attention to the impact of the situations like this, not only on the officer but on the officer’s family as well, and the officers here and the employees.”

The report from the prosecutor's office says that Idris stole a Heckler & Koch .40 caliber handgun while looking at it for purchase at the store at about 5:20pm that evening.  That was 10 days after he first came into the store and looked at the handgun. Surveillance video from Al and Bob's Sports shows Idris took the gun, put it in his back pocket, then walked out of the store.  He fled the scene on a mountain bike.

The mountain bike was found about a half hour later against a fence in the 3100 block of Jefferson SE.  A K-9 track could not find Idris.

About 7:20pm, Idris was spotted walking near 32nd Street and Madison SE. Officer Wells approached Idris and ordered him to "let me see your hands" and to stop.  According to investigators and as seen on released dash camera video, Idris instead "reached and grabbed what appeared to be a handgun" out of his back pocket and pointed it at Officer Wells, who then fired fired shots from his weapon, striking him.

Officers and first responders attempted to revive Idris, but he was pronounced dead at the scene from a gunshot wound to the chest.  Idris was found to have a trace amount of cocaine in his system, but was so small of an amount that the Medical Examiner determined it would have had no effect on his behavior.

Investigators say that the gun pointed by Idris at Officer Wells was the gun stolen from Al and Bob's Sports.  The gun was not loaded.  The sales tag was also found in Idris' pocket. As far as a motive, Forsyth says it may never be known.

"Why he pointed a gun at the officer when he knew it wasn’t loaded, no one will ever know," said Forsyth. "But again, the officer doesn’t know that. All he knows is somebody has stolen a gun, who’s been somewhere where nobody can account for him for an hour and a half, and he’s now pointing the gun at me. I don’t think there’s anybody that wouldn’t be confronted by that and not do exactly what this officer did.”

While video was key evidence in this investigation, Forsyth also said the four independent witness accounts that recalled the same facts of the Sept. 7 scene were critical. Carmody said all marked Wyoming patrol vehicles are equipped with dash cameras, and while he continues to look into body cameras, he has no plans of purchasing them.

“When you look at the amount of money that’s tied up into putting that program into play I think there’s resources that we can apply better in the community initially," said Carmody. "It’s about trust, and I’d rather have more cops on the street than I would spending that kind of money on body cameras.”