Charges filed against Oklahoma City officer who shot suicidal man to death
OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) -– Charges have been filed against an Oklahoma City police officer who is accused of shooting a suicidal man to death.
Around 2:40 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15, Oklahoma City police responded to a call of a person who was threatening suicide in the 1400 block of S.W. 20th.
When officers arrived on scene, the found 29-year-old Dustin Pigeon in a nearby yard holding a lighter fluid bottle in his left hand and a lighter in his right hand.
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Officials said Pigeon poured the lighter fluid on his body and was attempting to ignite the lighter when officers confronted him.
At one point during the confrontation, Officer Troy Nitzky fired one round from a bean bag gun at Pigeon.
Around the same time, Sgt. Keith Sweeney fired his weapon multiple times at Pigeon, killing him.
Officer Nitzky, who has served on the police force for two years, and Sgt. Sweeney, who has served on the force for nine years, were placed on routine administrative leave.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office announced that a second-degree murder charge, or in the alternative, first-degree manslaughter, had been filed against Sgt. Sweeney.
"The act of shooting Dustin Pigeon was unreasonable, unjustified, and perpetrated in an imminently dangerous manner, evincing a depraved mind, and demonstrating a disregard for human life..." the charge states.
Court documents state that the investigation into the incident concluded Pigeon was not armed and not a threat to the officers when he was shot by Sweeney.
On Tuesday afternoon, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater released body camera footage of the confrontation and shooting.
The footage shows three officers arriving at the scene and rushing toward Pigeon. The officers tell Pigeon to drop the lighter fluid and put his hands in the air.
At that point, Pigeon is seen putting his hands above his head and backing away from the officers. However, he did not drop the lighter fluid.
Prater says that Sgt. Sweeney can be heard on the video saying, "I will f******* shoot you" to Pigeon.
The body camera footage shows Pigeon falling to the ground after being shot by Sgt. Sweeney.
In an interview with officials, Prater says that Sweeney told investigators that he thought Sweeney had a knife in his hand and felt like his life was in danger. He also added that he didn't hear the bean bag gun being fired.
The Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police released the following statement after charges were filed against Sweeney.
"Police officers are routinely placed in dangerous situations where they must quickly make life-or-death decisions. We caution citizens against jumping to conclusions until the facts are fully presented. At this time, the FOP is not privy to the findings of the criminal investigation, and the video released today is only one piece of the puzzle. We hope to have more information about the particulars of this tragic situation soon. The FOP will always support members who act in good faith under the policies of the Oklahoma City Police Department and the law. We know these are trying times for Sgt.Sweeney and his family, and we're here for them. We also offer our sympathy to Mr. Pigeon's family and loved ones," said John George, the president of the Oklahoma City FOP.