District Attorney Marc Bennett will give an update Friday on the investigation into a Wichita police officer’s fatal shooting of Troy Lanning II in 2012, Bennett’s spokesman said.
Bennett also will speak about the process of investigating shootings by officers, DA spokesman Dan Dillon said in the e-mail Thursday. The briefing for media is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday.
The briefing is expected to deal with the question of whether Randy Williamson, who is no longer with the department, was justified in the shooting of Lanning in April 2012. Bennett said earlier this week that he couldn’t yet disclose the finding.
Williamson already is a defendant, along with the city, in a civil case filed by Lanning’s mother. While on duty, Williamson chased Lanning and shot him several times after Lanning allegedly reached into a bag. The lawsuit 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 city’s lawyers have argued in a court document that “Williamson was justified in using deadly force,” that he “reasonably perceived” a threat. A separate lawyer for Williamson, Arthur Chalmers, has said in a court document that after Williamson yelled for Lanning to drop a bag and show his hands, Lanning ignored the officer, turned “and raised the bag as if to shoot a gun inside the bag.” The shooting began with a late-night, high-speed chase – following a report of a possible drive-by shooting – through a residential area of southwest Wichita.
Court records show that Williamson last week entered what is known as an Alford plea in a separate shooting, of a building. 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 on the shooting involving the building. 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. Williamson received 12 months of probation.
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. 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. Investigators found no evidence that anyone fired at him.
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