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Wichita cop off street duty after investigation into shots fired raises ‘grave concerns’

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012, at 8:19 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, Sep. 28, 2012, at 6:42 a.m.

The investigation of a Sept. 4 incident in which a Wichita police officer fired shots that struck a building raised “grave concerns” that led to him immediately being taken off street duty, a law enforcement source said Thursday.

Although the same officer shot and killed 24-year-old Troy Lanning II in April after a high-speed car chase, there is no evidence that the officer was at fault in the April shooting, the source told The Eagle. Police found no weapon on Lanning after the shooting.

The same officer also was reportedly fired upon in 2008 while working off-duty and in uniform downtown, the source confirmed.

Lanning’s mother, Dawn Gaither, said Thursday of the officer who shot her son: “I’m glad he’s finally off the streets. I’ve had concerns, of course, since my son’s death.”

An autopsy report says that Lanning suffered six gunshot wounds: two to his back, one to his right cheek and ear, one to his right shoulder and chest, one to his trunk and one to his right thigh.

His blood tested positive for methamphetamine and for marijuana components, the autopsy report said.

Police have said that after the car chase and a subsequent foot chase, Lanning put his hand in a bag of belongings and appeared to aim it toward the officer in a threatening way. Police found no gun in the bag Lanning was carrying.

The officer was suspended Sept. 14, 10 days after he fired shots at the building, according to an e-mail statement the Wichita Police Department sent out Wednesday. Under the officer’s due-process rights, he is suspended with pay, the source said.

The officer previously had worked as a member of a Special Community Action Team, known as SCAT. It is a team off officers who are kept available to respond to major crimes and to do gang and drug enforcement.

Although the officer damaged the building on Sept. 4 when he opened fire, no one was struck. There is an ongoing investigation to determine whether a crime occurred; the Police Department said Wednesday that it expected to present its investigation to prosecutors by the end of the week.

Police have previously said that the officer fired several times after he said someone acting suspiciously appeared ready to shoot at him with a rifle or shotgun. The officer, a nine-year veteran, was parked in the 2800 block of West Pawnee doing paperwork just before midnight, police said then. Investigators found no evidence that anyone fired at him.

The investigation of the fatal shooting of Lanning is now in the hands of the District Attorney’s Office. It’s not clear when the office will rule on whether the shooting was justified.

In 2008, police said the officer escaped injury when a bullet apparently deflected off his lapel microphone while he was making rounds outside Wichita Area Technical College, 324 N. Emporia. Dozens of officers searched buildings downtown, looking for a shooter. It was not clear where the bullet came from.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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