COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two plainclothes officers who fatally shot a man last year who they said opened fire on them told investigators they feared for their lives, according to records released Monday.
Officers Jason Bare and Zachary Rosen also said in written statements taken in June 2016 that they shouted “police” before shooting Henry Green.
Both officers also said in oral interviews with investigators that they first identified themselves as police, although Rosen said he did not hear Bare yell “police.”
Columbus police say the 23-year-old Green, who was black, ignored commands to drop his gun during the shooting by the officers, who are both white.
Green’s family and a friend walking with him say Columbus police didn’t identify themselves when they began yelling at Green.
A grand jury last month declined to indict the officers in Green’s death. Marches following the shooting included “Black Lives Matter” protesters.
Witnesses gave conflicting accounts to detectives investigating the shooting, Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien said in announcing the grand jury’s decision on March 24.
Those included “how the shooting occurred, who fired the first shot, whether the officers announced their status as police officers,” O’Brien said.
Other discrepancies included whether police badges hanging on the officers’ necks were visible and whether officers acted in self-defense or shot Green “for no apparent lawful purpose,” O’Brien said.
The investigation found that Green fired six shots, Bare fired seven, and Rosen fired 15.
Green’s family has demanded an independent investigation.
It was unclear if any witnesses interviewed by police afterward heard the officers identify themselves, although some said they heard the officers yelling.
Several witnesses said the officers were wearing badges identifying themselves.
Rosen told investigators he was positive he identified himself as an officer.
“As, as soon as I exited the vehicle, I know I yelled, “Police!” Uh, I’m 100% sure of that,” Rosen said. However, asked if he heard Bare yell the same, he said: “Uh, I, I did not.”
Bare said he heard Rosen yell “police,” and also said he was certain he yelled it himself.
Green fired at the officers, according to some witnesses, and the investigation found the officers’ car was hit five times.
Messages were left with the Columbus Police Department. A lawyer representing Green’s family said surviving relatives still don’t understand why the grand jury didn’t bring charges against the officers.
The investigative files released Monday don’t appear to corroborate officers’ account of what happened, attorney Sean Walton said. He also questioned how rigorous investigators’ interviews were of the officers.
Walton says the family still hopes a special prosecutor might review the case.
“Right now the family just doesn’t feel that justice has been served in this process,” he said.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/awhcolumbus. His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/andrew-welsh-huggins
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