Published on April 3rd, 2015 | by The Kitsap Scene0
Prosecutor clears Port Orchard officers involved in fatal shooting last summer
The Kitsap County prosecutor cleared two Port Orchard police officers of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of a man last June.
Officers Matthew Bell and Nathan Lynch were both cleared in the shooting death of Thomas Daniel Rogers on June 19, 2014. Kitsap County Prosecutor Tina Robinson reviewed all the relevant evidence in the case, including witness statements, crime scene evidence, autopsy reports and video surveillance, and found the use of deadly force by both officers was justified, according to a press release from the county.
Last June, the officers attempted to contact Rogers at Rendezvous Tavern in Port Orchard where he was scheduled to DJ that evening, according to the release.
The two officers, along with a third officer, reportedly planned to arrest Rogers on outstanding warrants, including a felony warrant out of Oklahoma for five counts of sex offenses against a child.
When they arrived, the third officer reportedly drove around to the alleyway behind the building and stationed himself outside the back door of the tavern while Bell and Lynch attempted to make contact inside the tavern.
The owner of the tavern told Rogers the police were there for him and at first he appeared cooperative, the county’s release states. He reportedly walked over to turn down the volume to the stereo, and then bolted out the back door. One witness reported he believed he saw Rogers grab something, and that he had his hand behind his shirt.
As Rogers bolted out the back door, both Lynch and Bell ran after him, shouting for him to stop, the release states. As Rogers ran out the back door the third officer also started running toward Rogers and the other officers.
Rogers reportedly turned toward Lynch, who was closest in the pursuit. Rogers reportedly held a knife in his right hand and extended it toward Lynch.
Both Lynch and Jensen attempted to Taser Rogers, but according to the autopsy, neither actually made contact with Rogers’ body. After the Tasers were deployed, Rogers turned to move away, but quickly turned back towards Lynch, and lunged toward him Lynch with the knife, according to the release.
At that point, Lynch fired his weapon, shooting Rogers nine times. Bell also fired his weapon, shooting Rogers once.
Rogers fell to the ground with the knife still in his hand. He died at the scene and the autopsy report reveals the cause of death was gunshot wounds to the chest. Lynch reportedly had two cuts on his left leg from Rogers’ knife. Rogers apparently brought the knife from the home of a friend he had been staying with for the past month, according to the release. He also had two handwritten suicide notes on his person.
The county’s release states that the facts of the shooting fit squarely within Washington state law.
“An officer apprehending a person believed to have committed a felony is justified in using deadly force when that person threatens an officer with a weapon or displays a weapon in a manner that could reasonably be construed as threatening,” the release states. “The officers were attempting to arrest Rogers on felony warrants and he displayed and threatened the officers with a knife and even used the knife to cut Officer Lynch. The use of deadly force under these circumstances was justified and lawful.”