KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Three Kalamazoo police officers were justified in shooting and killing a man who opened fire at the city’s main bus station in November, the county prosecutor has ruled.
That means the officers will not face charges.
The shooting happened on the morning of Nov. 27, a Saturday, at the Kalamazoo Transit Center at W. Kalamazoo Avenue and N. Burdick Street. In his report on the shooting (PDF), Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said 54-year-old Anthony Oliver was in the courtyard of the bus station when he drew his gun and started shooting. He chased one victim toward a bus. The victim was able to get on the bus but the driver shut the door to keep Oliver out.
The prosecutor said Oliver fired at least five shots before Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officers arrived. Three people were hit by bullets. None were killed.
When officers got to the bus station, they found Oliver still holding his gun, a .357 revolver. The prosecutor said Oliver raised the gun. The three officers opened fire and so did Oliver. Oliver fired at least eight shots, the prosecutor said.
He was shot several times by police. He was rushed to a hospital, where he died.
No officers were injured.
An autopsy found Oliver sustained eight gunshot wounds: strikes to the left shoulder, back, arm, forearm, thigh, knee, right calf and a graze to his left ankle. A toxicology test didn’t find anything of note, the prosecutor said. The cause of death was ruled to be multiple gunshot wounds. The prosecutor said it’s impossible to say which order the shots happened in or which officer fired which shot.
Oliver had a history of mental illness, including being hospitalized in 2018 for threatening “suicide by cop.” After his death, his family told investigators he had been doing worse recently. He wasn’t taking his medication and was acting paranoid, they said. He had told one family member that he “wouldn’t be here by Sunday.”
After considering all the evidence, Prosecutor Getting said he decided the officers’ use of force was reasonable in response to an honest perception of a threat.
“Indeed,” he wrote, “their action likely saved their lives and the lives of others.”
In a statement (PDF), Getting called the shooting “tragic” and also said it “brings into focus the desperate need to improve the care provided to persons suffering from mental health difficulties.”
“People who suffer from mental illness, their families, care providers, and the community must do a better job to ensure people who are in need are getting the treatment and services that will help them,” Getting stated. “Far too often, law enforcement and the criminal justice system are being asked to respond to a crisis that results from the lack of mental health services. A situation that might otherwise have been avoided.”