Crime & Courts

Autopsy: Deputy was shot in back

An autopsy found that Sedgwick County Deputy Brian Etheridge — who was shot while responding to a theft report — died of a wound that caused extensive internal injuries.

The completed autopsy report, which ruled Etheridge's death a homicide, was obtained Tuesday from the Sedgwick County Regional Forensic Science Center.

Etheridge, 26, was shot twice just before noon on Sept. 28 outside a house on Rock Road across from McConnell Air Force Base. He died later that day at Wesley Medical Center.

Richard Lyons, 27, died early that evening in an exchange of gunfire with officers in a field near the house.

Investigators have said that Lyons apparently made up the theft report to lure an officer and that he hid in the backyard of the house and fired on Etheridge, the deputy who happened to respond.

Prosecutors expect to rule by the end of the year on whether the use of force against Lyons was justified, district attorney's spokeswoman Georgia Cole said Tuesday.

An autopsy report on Lyons has not yet been completed.

According to the autopsy report on Etheridge, at noon that day "he reportedly communicated to dispatch that he had been shot." A number of agencies responded.

After unsuccessful efforts to resuscitate him, he was pronounced dead at 4:20 that afternoon.

The autopsy found that a bullet entered the left side of his mid-back, causing major internal injuries. The deputy had an exit wound on the left side of his chest.

He also had been shot in his right foot, the report said.

Among the gear he wore, according to the autopsy: a navy blue armored vest.

And in a front pocket of the vest, the report said: "the police officers prayer."