Officers found to be justified in shooting death of Logan Bell - – Rockford’s News Leader

UPDATED: Officers found to be justified in shooting death of Logan Bell, Bell's relative disagrees

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Scene of the shooting - File Scene of the shooting - File
Logan Bell - File Logan Bell - File
Bruscato holds up the same make and model of pellet gun used by Bell (but not the same gun) at the press conference. Bruscato holds up the same make and model of pellet gun used by Bell (but not the same gun) at the press conference.

Rockford police officers were justified when they shot and killed a teenager on October 11th. Winnebago County's State's Attorney made that announcement that the use of deadly force was warranted. Investigators went through that day 18-year-old Logan Bell died, step by step. Logan's mental health may have played a role.

Logan Bell struggled with bipolar disorder. Three officers killed him after they say he fired first with a BB gun, which turns out to be his grandfather's, Willie Bell. Willie says Logan did not shoot first, though he didn't witness anything and relies on a neighbor to recount what happened.

"The guy who worked over there [near Central & Michigan Avenues,] he told me that when Logan pulled the pistol out he said Logan didn't shoot right then, he didn't shoot with that paper-cap pistol right then." -says Willie.

Willie didn't see anything, but he knew something was wrong.

"You could hear shooting and when I got down there they had killed Logan."

The BB gun looked just like a real gun. The three officers involved, Sergeant Andre Brass and Officers Phillip Statler and Jeremiah Cizerle say Logan also yelled something like "Shoot me, shoot me, you're going to have to shoot me. I'm not dropping my weapon." Experts say Logan trying suicide by cop.

"He was struck three times in the head, he was struck in the right leg, he was struck in the back several times and in the torso and in his left arm several times." -says Winnebago County Coroner Sue Fiduccia.

16 bullets hit Logan, 10 went right through him. Only a couple were killers.

"The two fatal shots were in the heart and lungs." -says Fiduccia.

Using toxicology tests, Fiduccia found what was in Logan Bell at the time of his death, but maybe more importantly, what wasn't.

"The only thing that came back as being present in his system was marijuana, so the medication that he was prescribed by his doctor for bipolar disorder, he was not taking because there was none in his system." -Fiduccia says.

According to Willie Bell, Logan's been treating bipolar disorder since he first started walking as a child. Now-a-days, he should have been taking medicine three times a day.

"I made him take his medicine a lot. He was supposed to take it everyday." -says Willie.

Police officers had no idea Bell had mental health problems before they shot him down. Police Chief Chet Epperson says Rockford cops are still prepared.

"We communicate, we attempt to de-escalate situations, unfortunately in this particular situation that didn't work and so certainly our prayers and sympathies go out to the Bell family and also for the human life lost, but also for our three officers and their families and what they've had to go through on a daily basis." -says Epperson.

According to Epperson, those three cops will return to work in the next couple of days.

Earlier we reported...

The Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office held a press conference Thursday, declaring three Rockford Police Department officers justified in the shooting death of 18-year-old Logan Bell.

Bell was shot dead by police in October 2012 after allegedly displaying what appeared to be a handgun. It was later discovered to be a CO2 pellet gun. The officers involved were Sergeant Andre Brass, Officer Phillip Statler, and Officer Jeremiah Cizerle.

The Winnebago County Integrity Task Force completed its standard investigation into Bell's death earlier this month. It was then handed over to the Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office. The State's Attorney's Office and a Winnebago County Grand Jury declared the officers' actions justified.

During the press conference, officials walked through the events surrounding Bell's death. A 911 call came in for a suicidal black male, armed with a handgun and wearing a multi-colored sweatshirt in the area of Central and Michigan.

According to Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato, Rockford Police Department and Rockford Park District Officers responded. A Park District officer spotted Bell, who then ran from police. The officer exited his vehicle and saw Bell armed with what appeared be a handgun. That's when Cizerle got to the scene.

Bruscato says Cizerle pursued Bell in his vehicle and ordered him to stop and put his hands up. Bell instead entered a wooded area on Central Avenue. Officer Statler arrived and also saw Bell armed with what appeared to be a handgun. Sergeant Brass was then dispatched to the scene.

Brass is said to have then advanced on Bell in order to try to get him to discard his weapon. Bruscato says Bell then pointed his gun at Brass and began to fire. Cizerle and Statler then say they saw Brass fall backwards and to the ground, believing him to be shot, but Brass had just tripped. Bell then hid behind Statler's car.

Statler fired on Bell, then reholstered his gun. Cizerle then noticed that Bell was still moving and looking toward Statler and Brass. He continued to fire on Bell, who then fell to his stomach. Upon approaching Bell, the officers obtained his weapon and realized it was a CO2 pellet gun. The officers were never aware that Bell had anything other than what appeared to be a handgun prior to that.

13 News Reporter Kelsie Passolt was at the press conference and will have more information on the events surrounding Bell's death, as well as more details on the investigation on 13 News at 5 & 6.

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