LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — The Lancaster County District Attorney’s office has cleared two officers involved in the deadly shooting of a 17-year-old burglary suspect in Lancaster County back on Aug. 6.
The Lancaster County DA’s office said that 17-year-old Darron Shaw allegedly pointed a ghost gun at officers before he was fatally shot by police. Videos from officer body cameras provided by the DA’s office appeared to show a gun being pointed at the responding officers.
Lancaster County DA Heather Adams released body camera footage from all three officers who responded. Two of them fired shots. Adams said the videos make it clear the officers’ lives were at risk.
“The use of force by both officers was justified under the law,” she said.
On Aug. 6, police were called to a home burglary. When officers arrived, the DA says a 14-year-old boy lives there had run up to the roof. He told them the intruder might still be inside.
The DA’s office says the body cam video shows Shaw pointing a 9mm semi-automatic ghost gun with an extended magazine at police when he comes out of the house. Those weapons are homemade, untraceable, and often bought and sold without any background checks.
Police fired their guns after shouting at Shaw to put his hands up. The DA’s office says Shaw was struck four to five times before he fled the scene. Shaw was able to climb over a fence before he collapsed and was given medical care by first responders.
“Officers responded to a burglary in progress call and were confronted by an armed suspect pointing a gun directly at them, and in a split-second, they perceived the gun, recognized the deadly threat and responded to it – only after the suspect failed to comply with verbal commands,” District Attorney Heather Adams said. “It is beyond question that the officers’ beliefs that lethal force was necessary to defend themselves and each other was objectively reasonable and therefore, the use of force was justified under the law.”
The names of the officers involved were not released by the District Attorney’s office.
DA Adams said this incident makes it clear how dangerous police officers’ jobs are.
“These officers put their life on the line each and every day they report,” she said. “To me, they are certainly our every day heroes.”
Adams also said the fact a 17-year-old had a gun is a problem, and it is one law enforcement is seeing more of. She said police need help to tackle this issue.
“We have seen an uptick in juvenile crime and specifically juvenile crimes involving guns,” Adams said. “We need parents to step up, we need the community to step up and start talking to police.”
Adams also said it does not appear Shaw fired his gun, and it is not clear whether the gun even worked. That gun is on the way to the state police lab for more analysis. Adams added her office does not believe this burglary was random, but could not provide any more information on a possible motive — it does not appear Shaw took anything from the home.
The two officers have not yet returned to duty.