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Luzerne Co. DA says officers' use of deadly force justified

Police: Police shooting justified

Luzerne County's district attorney said police were justified in the shooting death of a Hazleton man earlier this month.

Jonathan Garay, 26, was shot after threatening officers with a gun not once but twice, said District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis.

Garay's family, however, has a different version of events and claims officers chased Garay down and shot him for no reason.

According to Salavantis' four page report, police were called to the area of 3rd and Alter streets around 2:30 a.m. for alleged fights.

When they got there, police said Garay and a friend ran from the scene and when officers finally caught up to him, Garay began fighting with one of them.

It was then the DA said officers found a gun on Garay and had to shoot because he pointed it at them.

Salavantis said even after Garay was shot in the face, he continued to point the gun at the officers. He was then shot a second time and later died in the hospital.

Salavantis reports 'officers gave Mr. Garay numerous verbal commands to stop and show his hands' but he never complied.

She also said he had a blood alcohol level that was four times the legal limit.

The family would not comment on the results of the investigation Wednesday and neighbors said they wouldn't comment either for fear of retaliation from both parties involved.

Salavantis added authorities were unable to find any video that showed the actual shooting, contrary to family claims.

She adds that Garay's mother who was said to be an eyewitness to the shooting never allowed herself to be interviewed despite numerous attempts by investigators.

State police are now helping to patrol Hazleton because of rumors of threats or retaliation against officers.


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