CATASAUQUA, Pa. - The Lehigh County district attorney says the Catasauqua police officer who shot and killed an armed man in February was justified in his use of force.
Ryan Shirey, 27, threatened officers with a gun in the basement of his parents' home before one of the officers shot him, said DA Jim Martin, in a letter Tuesday to the Catasauqua police chief and state police in Bethlehem.
An investigation into the February 19th shooting found that Shirey's ex-girlfriend, who is a caretaker to his mother, called 911, saying Shirey had assaulted her and locked her out of the home.
Responding officers first tried to get Shirey, who had a history of mental health issues, to come out of the home, but he retreated to the basement, Martin said.
The officers went downstairs with flashlights, and found Shirey in one of the rooms with a gun, the DA said.
Shirey refused multiple commands to put the weapon down, and one of the officers fired five shots at him, Martin said. He died of his injuries.
The officer later told investigators that right before the officer fired, Shirey had yelled, "I told you not to (expletive) with me" and pointed the gun at him. An officer's body cam recorded Shirey saying, "(Expletive), you think I'm kidding," Martin said.
About 36 seconds had elapsed between the officer finding Shirey in the basement to when shots were fired, Martin said.
Investigators found Shirey's weapon had been the service weapon of his grandfather, who was a police officer. It was fully operable, but not loaded at the time, Martin said.
"Of course, neither officer...would have been able to determine that prior to the shooting," Martin said in the letter. "...There is nothing to suggest that (Shirey) knew the weapon was not loaded."
Days after the shooting, Shirey's family had spoken out, saying he had battled mental health issues for his entire life and that he was "a victim of a system that failed him."
Martin said the officer was justified in using deadly force, and no charges will be filed against any of the officers involved.