Officers cleared in Wichitan’s fatal shooting after chase

Prosecutors have cleared four officers involved in the Feb. 6 shooting death of a Wichita man in Reno County, who was shot after a chase that began in Sedgwick County.

Police initially said Darren J. Baker, 53, of Wichita, had a gun, but the Reno County District Attorney’s office said Friday that the alleged gun police saw was actually a cellphone.

“The shooting, although tragic, appears justified under Kansas law,” District Attorney Keith Schroeder stated in the release.

Officers with the Goddard, Andale and Mount Hope police departments and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department were involved in the shooting.

The high-speed chase started in Goddard and ended in the 3800 block of Parallel Road, near Cheney Lake.

Baker was seen fidgeting inside the car and at one point slumped over, and the stolen white 1992 Buick Roadster he was driving veered toward the ditch, Schroeder stated in a release.

Officers thought Baker had shot himself. He then corrected the car’s path and stopped in the right lane before getting out of the car.

Four police officers drew weapons and pointed them at Baker. Baker, standing outside the vehicle, leaned against the driver’s side door and faced toward the car, appearing to do something with his hands.

He refused 10 commands to take his arm out of the vehicle, Schroeder stated the investigation revealed.

He then dropped something on the ground and bent over to retrieve it. Officers believed the object was a gun’s magazine clip, and they believed they saw a gun in his hands.

Officers again repeatedly advised Baker to show his hands, but he refused and glanced over his shoulders at law enforcement officers. He then made a gesture like “cross-drawing a firearm from his left side” and pointed his hand at officers, according to the release.

Officers shot at Baker, and he was killed.

An investigation revealed that the phone belonged to the owner of the stolen car, a 62-year-old man who told police his car had been carjacked in the 2500 block of West Douglas. Baker had not made or received telephone calls from the phone.

The chase started after Goddard police tried to pull Baker over for failing to stop at a stop sign, and the pursuit began. The chase went through the north and northwest portions of Sedgwick County before ending up in Reno County, said Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Col. Richard Powell.

It ended when Baker got out of the car shortly before 1 p.m.