Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub has ruled that the fatal officer-involved shooting of a knife-wielding man last month in Northampton Township was justified.
Mark Chambers, 40, was fatally shot on the night of Nov. 5, 2023, after a brief confrontation with police just outside his home in the 400 block of Elm Avenue in the Holland section of Northampton Township.
The officers had responded to the house on a report of a suicidal man and, within seconds of their arrival, Chambers charged at them with a 12-inch knife with an 8-inch blade, ignoring at least 18 verbal commands to drop the weapon, the DAs office said.
In a letter to Northampton Township Police Chief Steven LeCompte this week, Weintraub wrote that based upon his review of the evidence, following an investigation by Bucks County Detectives, “I have concluded that [the officers] were reasonable in their individual beliefs that their lives were placed in clear and present danger by Mr. Chambers at the time that each of the three fired their service weapons at him, killing him. I therefore conclude that [the officers] were justified in discharging their weapons and fatally shooting Mark Chambers.”
Whenever deadly force is used by law enforcement officers in Bucks County, it is standard procedure for the District Attorney to investigate to determine whether the use of deadly force was justified.
Because none of the officers are being charged, their names are not being released, per District Attorney’s Office protocol.
The DAs office gave the following account of the incident that resulted in Chambers’ death.
At 7:30 p.m. Nov. 5, 2023, the Bucks County Communications Center received a 911 call from a woman reporting that her son was armed with a knife, had cut his own neck, and was threatening to jump from the roof.
A review of the officers’ body camera footage showed that the entire incident lasted a total of 35 seconds, which included the 18 seconds from the time they exited their vehicles until their initial encounter with Chambers.
The officers’ body-worn camera showed Chambers standing just inside the front doorway of his home and holding a knife with both hands at waist level. In the 17-second confrontation with Chambers, the three officers gave Chambers at least 18 verbal commands to “drop the knife” or “drop it.”
During this encounter, Chambers could be heard saying, “Help me,” and one of the officers responded, “We will help you.”
However, without warning, Chambers positioned his knife in an overhead attack position and charged out the front door at the officers, causing them to open fire. The three officers retreated a short distance backwards and were approximately six to 10 feet away from Chambers when they discharged their firearms at him.
An autopsy showed Chambers died from multiple gunshot wounds.
Weintraub wrote in his letter to LeCompte that all three officers reasonably believed Chambers intended to stab at least one of them when he raised his knife into an attack position and charged toward the three of them from within six to 10 feet away.
“By raising his knife into an attack position from mere feet away as he charged at the officers, despite all their repeated commands for him to drop his weapon, Mark Chambers created a situation in which all three officers had no other reasonable choice but to fire their weapons in defense of themselves, and of each other, in order to neutralize the deadly and imminent threat that Chambers posed to them all,” Weintraub wrote.
All three officers acted within the permissible scope of Northampton Township Police use-of-force requirements, and the use-of-force best practices guidelines adopted by all Bucks County Police Departments in November 2020, Weintraub noted.
“For the foregoing reasons, I therefore conclude that [the officers] were each legally justified in shooting Mark Chambers, which unfortunately resulted in his death,” Weintraub wrote. Because the officers are not criminally culpable, he added, the investigation is now closed.