The March 28 shooting of a man who twice pointed what appeared to be a handgun at Falls Township officers was justified, Bucks County First Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Schorn announced Tuesday, May 23.
The 20-year-old man survived the shooting and will be charged at a later time with felony fleeing and attempting to elude police and other related charges. In a press release, the DA’s office did not name the man.
In a letter to Falls Township Police Chief Nelson Whitney, Schorn wrote that the investigation by the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office concluded that the officers were reasonable in their individual beliefs that their lives were placed in clear and present danger at the time of the shooting, and they were justified in discharging their weapons and shooting the man, who suffered serious bodily injury from his gunshot wound.
The incident began with a routine traffic stop just after midnight on March 28. A man pointed what appeared to be a handgun at police on two separate occasions. At one point, he fled from police officers in his vehicle. After the man was shot, police secured the firearm and rendered aid until paramedics arrived. The man was transported to a hospital, where he underwent surgery for his injuries.
Both officers were uninjured and were placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation. It is standard procedure for the District Attorney’s Office to investigate and determine whether the use of deadly force was justified whenever there is a shooting by law enforcement officers in Bucks County.
Bucks County Detectives began their investigation immediately after the shooting occurred and Schorn relied on their findings and other evidence in reaching her conclusion.
“We’ve reviewed all the pertinent material and have decided that the officers involved in this shooting were justified in using deadly force, and therefore won’t be charged with any crimes,” Schorn said.
The investigation revealed that the apparent gun that the man possessed and aimed repeatedly at officers was in fact a CO2 air gun made to look like a Glock handgun. An advertisement for the air gun touts it as “compact and handy with the unmistakable look of the original pistol and plenty of power,” Schorn said.
Because neither officer is being charged, their names are not being released, per District Attorney’s office protocol. Additionally, both officers acted within the permissible scope of Falls Township Police use-of-force requirements, and the use-of-force best practices guidelines adopted by all Bucks County Police Departments in November 2020.