State Attorney: Clearwater Police Shooting Was Justified
The dead man had made suicidal statements and researched “suicide by cop,” according to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office.
CLEARWATER – A Clearwater police officer who shot and killed a man in October “had reason to believe his life was in danger,” according to Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe.
McCabe has ruled that the Oct. 19 shooting death of Mitchell Fox, 34, by Officer Christopher Fowler was justified. A separate investigation by the Deadly Force Review Board of the Clearwater Police Department reached the same conclusion.
“When Mitchell Fox pointed a firearm at Officer Fowler, he had reason to believe his life was in danger,” reads a Thursday (Nov. 2) from McCabe to police Chief Dan Slaughter.
Fowler has been on administrative duty since the shooting, standard in such a case. With the two rulings, he is cleared to return to his patrol duties.
Mr. Fox died at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg where he was taken after the shooting. His wife, Jessica, who had told him hours before the shooting that she wanted a divorce, had called police because she feared for the safety of her children when he told her he had a gun.
During the confrontation between Fowler and Mr. Fox, he pulled a “small semi-automatic firearm from tis right pocket and held it up to his side,” the letter said. “At that point, Officer Fowler told him to drop the gun several times. Mr. Fox refused to obey the officer’ s commands and pointed the gun forward towards the officer. Officer Fowler, fearing for his life, fired his firearm three times at Mr. Fox.”
Jessica Fox told investigators that her husband had a long history of depression, including psychiatric treatment for the condition. He was given a prescription for anti-depressants but was not taking them and had not followed up with treatment after moving to Clearwater from Kentucky.
“That Sunday, he told his wife he had put a gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger just to see if he could take his own life. He told his wife it really scared him and he did not think he could pull the trigger himself,” McCabe’s letter said.
McCabe adds, “Months prior to the shooting, Ms. Fox said her husband had been reading up on methods of suicide including what is commonly referred to as suicide by cop.”
To read the complete letter, click here: McCabe Letter
For information about the Clearwater police, go to clearwaterpolice.org.
Clearwater Police | Officer-Involved Shooting | Bernie McCabe | Tampabay News
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