Topeka, KS –Two Topeka police officers were justified in the fatal shooting death of Dominique White in September, the Shawnee County District Attorney Michael Kagay announced on Wednesday.
Bodycam footage of the Sep. 28 shooting was released on Wednesday (video below).
“It is my conclusion based on a review of all relevant facts and law, that the actions of the officers involved in this incident do not rise to the level of criminal conduct,” he said.
The incident occurred after police received a report that someone fired five gunshots near Ripley Park at 9:20 a.m.
"There is also little doubt that Mr. White was attempting to avoid being detained or searched by the officers," Kagay said. He noted that the officers remained "calm and professional."
The video showed White as he was questioned by police.
“We’re only here because we’re checking out a gunshot call, OK?” the officer said to White, who had placed his hands on his head.
White made an indistinguishable comment, and the officer told him he had “nothing to do with you and your chick. But I have everything to do with your guys’ safety and the community’s safety.”
An officer standing behind White signaled to his partner that the suspect had a gun in his left front pocket.
Investigators later learned White was in possession of a chambered 9mm semiautomatic pistol, which had seven additional rounds in the magazine.
Another two loaded magazines and a knife were also found in his pocket.
The officer who was standing behind White then approached him, at which point the man’s behavior began to change.
“Man, please don’t touch me,” White warned.
“Hold on,” an officer said.
“You have no reason to arrest me,” White argued as he began to move away.
“He has a gun in his pocket,” an officer said as they attempted to gain control of the armed man.
White pulled away from the officers and began to flee, as his hand hovered above the pocket of his shorts.
Each officer fired four rounds and White was struck three times, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
One bullet hit him in the heart and a lung, a second projectile struck a lung, and one grazed his left side, Kagay said.
“It was Mr. White’s actions that escalated these events,” Kagay said. “No reasonable judge or jury would find the actions of either officer involved in this matter to be unlawful.”
White’s blood later tested positive for marijuana and methamphetamine, The Kansas City Star reported.
According to the Star Tribune, White pleaded guilty to a burglary charge in 2015, and was placed on probation.
He was sent to prison in 2016, after he pleaded no contest to illegal firearm possession.
He had been out of prison for less than five months prior to the incident that led to his death.
White's family members complained that they are "incredibly disappointed" by Kagay’s decision.
"My son was shot in the back while attempting to run away from officers," White's mother, Mary Theresa Wynne, said. "The video shows that they did not need to shoot and kill him."
Kagay said he met with White’s family and their attorneys prior to his Wednesday announcement, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
“I do not expect them to agree with my analysis,” Kagay said.
“Would a reasonable officer believe (White) was a threat to use deadly force?” Kagay asked. “Unequivocally, I believe yes.”
You can watch bodycam footage of the fatal shooting below. The bodycam starts just a few seconds into the video and the shooting happens just after the two minute mark. WARNING - Graphic: