COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
No charges will be filed against the Columbia police officers who were involved in the shooting of a suicidal man at a Columbia apartment complex in August.
Marquis Rivera, 22, was shot and killed by Columbia police officers on Aug. 4 after police said Rivera shot into the air and then shot at officers, according to previous reporting. The case was reviewed by Callaway County Prosecutor Benjamin Miller. The names of the officers involved were not released.
Miller wrote in a memo -- dated on Wednesday -- that charges were not filed because there was an imminent threat to public safety, officers made efforts to de-escalate and the officers’ conduct was reasonable “based on the totality of circumstances.”
Police were called twice to an apartment at The Landing, a complex on Campusview Drive in south Columbia, for a reportedly suicidal man. When officers arrived the second time, Rivera had a gun and allegedly shot first in the air, then at officers, according to Columbia Police. More than one officer returned fire and the suspect was killed, according to previous reporting.
Miller wrote in his decision that Rivera shot a handgun eight-to-10 times in the air and at officers. He also wrote that shots hit the officers’ patrol cars.
“He also made threats to shoot the officers if they did not shoot him. Despite the officers’ repeated attempts at de-escalation, the subject persisted in his actions and ultimately pointed the firearm directly at CPD officers while telling them it was loaded,” Miller wrote in the memo. “In response to these actions, the officers deployed lethal force to protect both themselves and nearby citizens. Officers immediately attempted to provide life-saving measures to the subject, but the subject died on scene. Officers were able to verify that the firearm the subject had pointed at them was still loaded.”
"A loss of life is tragic to so many people, especially family and friends," Columbia Police Chief Jill Schlude said in a Friday afternoon statement. "Our department would like to extend its condolences to everyone affected, and I urge our community to come together and support each other during this difficult time."
Rivera’s father, Ralph Edwards, told ABC 17 News earlier this week that he believed the officers at the scene were “negligent.”
Miller wrote, “Eyewitness accounts confirm that the officers maintained a firm and professional demeanor in their efforts to persuade the subject to surrender his weapon. It was only when the subject raised his gun towards the officers, explicitly indicating it was loaded, that they resorted to firing. At no point was their conduct reckless or negligent as contemplated by the statutes governing the offenses of manslaughter.”
Edwards told ABC 17 News on Wednesday that he had seen the bodycam footage of the incident. He claimed that during the first interaction with police, Rivera answered “yes” three times when he was asked if he was going to hurt himself, until he eventually said he was OK. Edwards also stated that in the bodycam footage, claims that officers allegedly called Rivera's ex-girlfriend and told her that they were going to take Rivera to a hospital.
“He reached out and asked for help,” Edwards said during a Wednesday interview. “The 9-1-1 came through and he said he felt like hurting himself and right then and there we felt like the proper steps and procedures were supposed to be in place for him to get the help he needed.”
According to a section detailing the authority of officers in the Columbia Police Department Mental Illness Commitments policy:
“An officer may take a person into custody for evaluation and treatment when the officer has reasonable cause to believe that such person is suffering from a mental disorder and presents an imminent likelihood of serious harm to him/herself or others if not immediately taken into custody.”
Miller’s memo states that the first contact was “resolved without incident” after Rivera claimed he didn’t want to hurt himself.
“During the initial contact, officers spoke with the subject and resolved the situation without incident after being told by the subject that he did not want to hurt himself or anyone else,” the memo reads.
ABC 17 News reached out to Rivera’s family on Friday.