Prosecutor: Middlefield police officers acted in self-defense in fatal shooting of James Gilkerson
Tina Kaufmann, newsnet5.com
12:29 PM, May 1, 2013
12:40 PM, May 1, 2013
MIDDLEFIELD, Ohio - A review is complete into the fatal officer-involved shooting of James Gilkerson and the Geauga County prosecutor reports officers acted in self-defense.
On March 10, dash cam video showed Gilkerson being pulled over by Middlefield police officers Savage and Thomas for failing to stop at the intersection of East High Street and North State Avenue.
The prosecutor's report notes Officer Thomas got out of the passenger side of her cruiser and began walking up to the stopped car when Gilkerson opened the door and began shooting at her "in rapid succession" using an AK-47 style rifle equipped with a 40 round magazine.
Thomas was struck by a bullet in her hand resulting in the amputation of her index finger. Officer Savage began firing at Gilkerson through the cruiser windshield as Officer Thomas got behind the cruiser.
The report notes one of the 29 rounds fired by Officer Savage struck Gilkerson who began to move back toward his vehicle yelling "kill me" while continuing to fire shots at the officers.
Crouched on one knee with his rifle pointed toward the cruiser, Officer Savage fired several shots, fatally striking Gilkerson as Officer Thomas radioed for backup.
Gilkerson was pronounced dead at the scene by the medical examiner. An autopsy showed 19 wounds and nine bullets to his body. The two fatal shots were to his head and chest.
In all, Gilkerson fired 33 rounds at the officers. A search of his car and the trunk revealed multiple loaded magazines and loads of ammunition, ski masks and gloves, military style ammo cans, a scoped .22 caliber rifle, numerous instructional DVDs and books such as "Kitchen Approved Plastic Explosives," "Advance Close-Range Gunfighting," "Homemade Detonators," and many others.
Geauga County Prosecutor James Flaiz noted in his 4-page report that both officers "were in imminent danger of great bodily harm or death due to the actions of James Gilkerson. The only reasonable course for both officers was to use their firearms in self-defense."
Based on the facts, the prosecutor said the incident will not proceed to a Grand Jury.
"The only crimes committed on March 10, 2013 were committed by (Gilkerson)," said Flaiz.