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DA: Use of deadly force in shooting 'necessary'

August 04, 2010 | 09:10 AM
Geneva — Town police officers Ken Mulhollon and Jason Sweeney and Walworth County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Smith won't be on administrative duty anymore.

The officers were involved in the July 13 fatal shooting of Roman O. Petriw, 47, N3095 Dandelion Road. Since then, in a move that's standard for these tye of situations, Mulhollon, Sweeney and Smith were placed on administrative leave.

But on Friday, Walworth County Sheriff David Graves and Geneva Town Police Chief Ed Gritzner issued a statement announcing the officers will return to full duty.

They also released a letter from Walworth County District Attorney Phillip Koss, who states what the officers did was "necessary."

"I believe that there is no other reasonable conclusion other than Deputy Smith, Officer Mulhollon and Officer Sweeney were attempting to prevent the shooting of other officers, whether intentional or not," Koss stated. "I have no doubt in my mind that they did so. I believe that no reasonable juror could conclude otherwise. Therefore, not only do I believe that the officers' acts were appropriate, I do not believe that any inquest is necessary in this case."

The Waukesha County Sheriff's Office led the investigation of the shooting. Apparently, Petriw was suicidal.

'Too much bad luck'

According to Koss, law enforcement became involved in the early morning incident when the owner of the residence, Lucian Lange, called 911 because he was concerned about Petriw, who had been staying at the residence for several weeks.

Lange and Petriw had been friends since grade school.

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However, prior to the shooting, Lange wanted Petriw to move out.

The two argued that morning. Lange reportedly went outside to cool down and told a Walworth County Sheriff's detective when he returned, Petriw had two guns and said, "There is a problem here."

Petriw told Lange he was not leaving and instructed Lange to call police. Lange told authorities Petriw didn't point the guns at him, but he still called 911.

Petriw said he wasn't mad at Lange "but he had no place to go," according to Koss.

"Mr. Lange reported that he tried to talk Petriw out of suicide, but (Petriw) stated he had 'too much bad luck,'" Koss stated.

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One of the first officers to arrive — a Walworth County Sheriff's deputy — reported Petriw was sitting on the screened-in porch of the residence and heard him say something like, "What took you so long?"

"I have learned from other officers that were present that Mr. Petriw asked officers to move so they would not be hit by any gunfire from his guns," Koss stated.

He also stated officers repeatedly attempted to negotiate with Petriw.

"It is my understanding that despite Mr. Petriw shooting himself with both of his handguns, he still reached for his weapons," Koss stated. "That is when all three officers shot at Mr. Petriw simultaneously."

According to Koss, this is backed up by another 911 call which was reported shortly after the shooting.

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"In that call, a man stated that he was walking his dog and that he heard officers say, 'Come out with your hands up,'" Koss said. "Shortly thereafter, he heard gunshots."

In their statement, Graves and Gritzner backed the analysis of the investigation provided by Koss.

"Deputy Scott Smith and town of Geneva officers Ken Mulhollon and Jason Sweeney responded professionally and decisively with their actions to stop the threat that was present," they stated.

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