The family of a Pennsylvania man shot 17 times by police officers has filed an $8 million lawsuit against the department, alleging that officers used excessive force to bring down 40-year-old Todd William Shultz as he refused to drop the knife and scissors that were in his hands and attempted to re-enter the occupied store where the confrontation began:
Police had attempted to arrest Shultz inside the store for shoplifting jewelry, but he resisted, and continued to do so as the struggle moved outside of the store.
Officers attempted to subdue Shultz with batons and a TASER, but the suspect continued holding the weapons.
In a recently released dash cam video of the incident, the officers’ ignored pleas can be heard as Shultz continues to advance.
Shultz, who was reportedly on cocaine at the time of the incident, did not go down after officers opened fire and struck him six times.
Police fired an additional 11 shots as Shultz moved toward the store entrance, facing away from officers.
The family’s lawyer, Devon Jacob, questions why officers continued to fire after the first six shots – claiming that Shultz was no longer a threat that required deadly force after he turned away from police.
“The threat had been reduced at that point. He’s facing the window in the corner … he’s basically contained,” Jacob told the York Dispatch. “Granted, he didn’t put the knife down. But there was nothing that required them to fire again. Basically, there was a standoff at that point. They have him at gunpoint.”
The action in the dashcam video begins at the 3:19 mark if you want to skip ahead.
When the officer driving the squad car rolls up, the encounter had already been going for a while. Shultz is on the ground after apparently having been tased, but refuses to give the knife and scissors that he’s using as weapons. Officers attempt to kick away his weapons, then attempt to use a baton, but can’t get Shultz to comply and give up his knife and scissors.
Shultz continues to attempt to get up, the continuing jolts from the taser only being marginally effective. The officer who had been tasing Shultz finally drops the taser (you can see the flashlight on the front of it) beside the trashcan at the 4:27 mark.
Officers repeatedly plead with Shultz to drop the knife, telling him that the don’t want to fire their weapons.
Shultz lumbers to his feet and begins shuffling towards the front door of the store, which has plenty of customers and employees inside. He refuses to drop his weapons and refuses to listen to police commands.
Three officers re-position themselves between Shultz and the door, not wanting him to get inside where he could potentially put the lives of customers and employees at greater risk. After Shultz refuses to listen to officers and pushes on towards the door, the officers open fire at 4:51-4:55.
Officers pause for a second to scan and assess, and Shultz continues staggering towards the door, his only apparent reaction to being shot six times is the turn his body away from officers.
Officers reengage Shultz again as he continues shuffling towards the door. At the 5:00 mark he finally drops, struck by 11 more bullets.
Someone (presumably Shultz) moans several more times, and then is silent and moves no more.
I’m not buying the family lawyer’s argument that Shultz was “basically contained,” and that they were “at a standoff,” during the final 11 shots.
While Shultz was moving at a glacial pace throughout the encounter, he appeeared to me that he was bracing himself against the window and side-stepping towards the door as the final volley of 11 rounds were fired.
On paper 17 shots certainly sounds excessive, but I’m having a hard time figuring out precisely when they should have stopping firing before they did.
If the family’s lawyer can’t articulate a specific moment where the shooting should have stopped any better than he was thus far, I don’t see where he’s going to have much of a chance of winning his case.