ROANOKE, Va. — The Roanoke County police officers involved in the fatal shooting of teenager Kionte Spencer will not face criminal charges, WDBJ reported. Spencer, 18, was shot and killed in February when he refused police commands to drop his gun as he walked down the street.
The gun turned out to be a BB gun, police said.
Spencer appeared to be wearing headphones when he was shot.
The Roanoke County Commonwealth’s Attorney determined the police officers who shot Spencer were “reasonably in fear for their safety,” WDBJ7 reported.
His investigation determined Spencer was “attempting to point a gun at officers.”
The two officers fired three shots.
“Had (Spencer) acted responsibly or followed directions, this incident could have been avoided,” Roanoke County Police Chief Howard Hall told WDBJ7said.
Additionally, WDBJ7 reported:
Images previously released showed Spencer holding a BB gun.
It was “not reasonable” to suggest that officers could tell the difference between BB gun and real gun at that time, investigators found.
Police say Spencer turned to officers a total of six times, and it was reasonable to conclude Spencer knew officers were trying to stop him.
Investigators say officers gave clear, repeated instructions to Spencer.
It’s likely that the taser failed because it struck his backpack.
One of the taser prongs attached to his sweatshirt.
One officer requested a beanbag gun before the shooting. However, the supervisor with that device did not make it to the scene in time.
Hall said records suggest Spencer was removed from his parents home because of abuse. Spencer was also in variety of mental health programs. Hall also said there were two suicide attempts and he was taking his medication on a regular basis.
Hall also pointed out that Spencer posted a Facebook status saying he would “spaz” on a cop. Spencer was likely a few days away from being homeless. Spencer was recently suspended from school and had pending marijuana charges.
“I think it’s reasonable to conclude he was suffering from a mental illness. He was someone in crisis, which makes it more tragic,” Hall said.
Roanoke County Police will not release the dash cam video, but did not make it available for a handful of reporters to view.