Three Beloit police officers should head back to work soon after shooting and killing a wanted man. Rock County investigators believe if police didn't use deadly force, one or more innocent people could've been hurt.
It's been almost 30 years since Beloit last saw an officer-involved shooting that ended in a death. This hasn't been an easy last three weeks for the police department.
"It's always hard when an investigation is being run by an agency that's not our own, that we are simply waiting for that agency to finish their investigation so we can move forward." -says Beloit Police Department Detective Bureau Captain Dan Risse.
Wisconsin's Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation has handled the case since June 11th. Investigators say three cops pulled Darrius Lowery-Baptiste over that evening; Sergeant Dan Tilley and officers Brian Miller and Seth Hendricks. They wanted to arrest him for an outstanding warrant and to ask him some questions about a separate case. According to officers, Baptiste wouldn't cooperate and tried to drive away. They say he steered his car in Sergeant Tilley's direction. Police feared for the sergeant's safety, as well as other citizens in the downtown area. That's why they shot Baptiste. Investigators believe Baptiste's actions resulted in his death.
"We're obviously pleased with the decision and we're eagerly anticipating getting the officers back to work." -Captain Risse says.
The three officers are set to return, but not yet.
"There's a process they need to go through.. there will be some firearms training needed to get them back to work as well as some medical evaluations, so we're kind of on other people's calendars; when can we get into the range, when can we get in to see the physicians." -Captain Risse adds.
Beloit police say they'll have more information once they get reports back from state investigators.
Earlier we reported...
The Wisconsin District Attorney's Office closes its investigation into an officer involved deadly shooting in Beloit last month.
Darrius Lowery Baptiste, 23 was killed after police say he accelerated his vehicle at a Beloit Police Officer. Sergeant Dan Tilley, Officer Brian Miller and Officer Seth Hendricks pulled Baptiste over near the intersection of East Grand Avenue and State Street on June 11th. Police say Baptiste was wanted for questioning related to a recent shooing in Beloit. The District Attorney's Office says when officers approached his car, Baptiste wouldn't get out and tried running over Sergeant Tilley. That's when the officers fired shots at Baptiste and killed him.
District Attorney David O'Leary says Baptiste was shot and killed by officers because of his own actions and because he threatened Sergeant Tilley's life. O'Leary says the use of force by the officers was both legal and appropriate.
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