(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — Authorities in North Carolina have released bodycam footage showing the fatal shooting by a police officer of a 25-year-old man who they said was having a mental breakdown and had allegedly aimed a rifle at an officer.
In a letter dated Thursday to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney, Mecklenburg County District Attorney R. Andrew Murray said that Officer Brian Walsh’s use of deadly force against Laroslav Mosiiuk in the March 8 shooting was “justified.”
On March 8, at approximately 1 p.m., Walsh and Officer Michael Dezenzo responded to a 911 call from Mosiiuk’s sister, Olesya Tabaka. According to authorities, Tabaka had left the house and dialed 911, reporting that Mosiiuk had a gun and that she believed he was having a “psychotic episode.”
“[According to Tabaka] Mosiiuk was acting irrationally, had not slept in days and was retrieving a rifle,” authorities said. “She told the 911 operator that her brother was screaming that he ‘didn’t want to live.'”
She also said, according to authorities, that she and her boyfriend had hidden parts of a gun and that she was hoping that her brother did not find them.
In Dezenzo’s bodycam footage, he is seen walking onto the porch and knocking on the door to the house. He identifies himself as being with the police, but then starts yelling: “Gun! Gun!”
Authorities said that Dezenzo saw Mosiiuk walking toward the front door with a rifle.
As the officer runs away, he also yells: “Get back! Get back! He had a long gun!”
As seen in Walsh’s bodycam footage, Walsh is on the side of the porch and on the lawn. After Dezenzo yells and runs away, Walsh also runs. He enters the street and goes behind a police vehicle.
According to authorities, Walsh told investigators he saw Mosiiuk leave the house armed with a rifle. He said he saw Mosiiuk point the rifle at Dezenzo, who had been running away.
Walsh then shot Mosiiuk. He told investigators that he did not give Mosiiuk “a verbal warning to drop the gun” before he fired because he was “afforded no time.”
Mosiiuk was taken to a hospital where he was later pronounced dead. According to an autopsy report, he died of a gunshot wound to the back.
According to authorities, it was later determined that Mosiiuk’s rifle was not operable. Although it was loaded, authorities said, the rifle was missing the bolt, which was inside an unlocked pistol case in the house.
“While the death of Iaroslav Mosiiuk is certainly a tragedy, it is not a crime. Officer Walsh was dealing with a mentally ill subject pointing a rifle at him, his partner and nearby civilians,” Murray said in his letter. “The officer’s decision to fire his weapon is justified under the law of self-defense. The evidence fully supports the conclusion that Officer Walsh was reasonable in his belief that deadly force was necessary.”
Lauren Newton, a lawyer for Mosiiuk’s family, said it was important for the bodycam footage to be released.
“At the end of the day, this was a mental health call, and if this is the way that mental health calls are handled, then people would be afraid to call the police,” Newton told WSOC-TV recently.
Rob Tufano, the police department’s public affairs director, told ABC News on Tuesday that there’s currently an internal investigation underway to ensure Walsh followed department policy and that Walsh is on administrative assignment.
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