A former Wichita police officer still facing an investigation and a lawsuit over a fatal shooting more than two years ago has received probation for a subsequent shooting that damaged a building.
In a related development, District Attorney Marc Bennett said Monday that this week he will announce his office’s finding into whether the former officer, Randy Williamson, was justified in the fatal shooting of 24-year-old Troy Lanning II while Williamson was on duty in April 2012. Bennett said he couldn’t yet disclose the finding.
Court records show that Williamson last week entered what is known as an Alford plea in the 2012 building shooting. That means he is accepting a plea offer without an admission of guilt. He entered the plea to an amended complaint that reduced his criminal-damage-to-property charge from a felony to a misdemeanor. The plea also includes a misdemeanor charge of falsely reporting a crime.
Williamson, 33, had been facing trial this month. Prosecutors accused him of firing shots that damaged a south Wichita building while he was on duty in September 2012. They also alleged that he falsely reported a crime, apparently about the incident.
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Even if Williamson had pleaded guilty to the felony damage charge, it also would have called for probation, Bennett said.
“Ninety percent of the cases across the nation are resolved with negotiation, and we treated this case like any other,” Bennett said of the reduced charge.
Williamson received 12 months of probation. He must “continue with psychological therapy … until successfully discharged” and must pay restitution of $5,879.72, says a document filed in Sedgwick County District Court.
Patrick Mitchell, Williamson’s attorney in the damage case, said last month that when Williamson allegedly shot at the building, he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as a result of the fatal shooting five months earlier. Mitchell said Monday that he wanted to stress that the only therapy Williamson must continue is for PTSD from the fatal shooting.
Soon after the building shooting, police said that Williamson fired several times after he said someone acting suspiciously appeared ready to shoot at him with a rifle or shotgun. Williamson, then a nine-year veteran, was parked in the 2800 block of West Pawnee doing paperwork just before midnight. Investigators found no evidence that anyone fired at him.
About three weeks after the building shooting, The Eagle, citing a law enforcement source, reported that the incident raised “grave concerns” that led to the officer immediately being taken off street duty.
Williamson also is a defendant, along with the city, in a civil case filed by Lanning’s mother. While on duty in April 2012, Williamson chased Lanning and shot him several times after Lanning allegedly reached into a bag.
The lawsuit, filed in March, claims that the city knew or should have known that Williamson had “mental problems and violent tendencies.” The lawsuit also contends that Williamson wrongfully and unnecessarily killed Lanning when he was unarmed and “as he lay on the ground already wounded and helpless.”
The lawsuit seeks more than $75,000.
The city’s lawyers argued that “Williamson was justified in using deadly force,” that he “reasonably perceived” a threat posed by Lanning.
A separate lawyer for Williamson, Arthur Chalmers, provided this narrative:
The shooting began with a late-night, high-speed chase. Williamson saw a man carrying a bag in his hands run from the fleeing SUV.
Williamson repeatedly yelled commands for Lanning to stop. Williamson drew his service revolver from the holster because of “the risk of serious injury that Mr. Lanning posed to him and others,” the narrative says.
After Williamson yelled for Lanning to drop the bag and show his hands, Lanning ignored the officer, turned “and raised the bag as if to shoot a gun inside the bag.” When Lanning “continued the aggressive movement,” it forced Williamson to “fire a volley” of five to six rounds, Chalmers wrote in a court document.
Lanning rolled and lifted the bag with his right hand inside “as if to fire a gun,” and when Lanning continued to ignore commands, it forced Williamson to fire a second volley of two to three rounds, Chalmers said.
Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.