KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - A government sentencing memo released on Monday provides new details on the shooting that led to the death of Kalamazoo Public Safety Officer Eric Zapata in April.
Kim Robert Statler II pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm in July. According to the sentencing memo, Statler was in possession of 13 firearms.
Kim's brother Leonard Statler was the man who shot and killed Zapata and then turned the gun on himself.
The sentencing memo provides a detailed description of the night that Zapata and Leonard Statler died and the events leading up to their deaths.
Court images referenced in the memo show that Kim Statler's residence that he shared with his father had several firearms. Statler's father had several unsecured long guns stored in his close and high-powered rifle ammunition in a chest of drawers next to the bed.
An upstairs storage room housed three more unsecured long guns and ammunition.
Statler's father left for Florida, leaving Statler in charge of the home even though he is a convicted felon. The firearms and ammunition were not secured, the memo said, and easily accessible by both Leonard Daniel Statler, Kim's brother, and Kim Statler's children.
Leonard Statler was also a convicted felon who was prohibited from possessing a firearm.
The .357 revolver and SKS assault rifle used by Leonard Statler in the shootout that left Officer Zapata dead belonged to his father and came from his father's residence.
"It is still unknown exactly when or how Leonard Statler obtained those firearms," said the memo.
The memo claims that Statler must claim partial responsibility for Zapata's death.
"While the defendant [Kim Statler] is not responsible for his brother's actions, he is responsible for what he himself did or failed to do," said the memo.
The government said that Kim Statler failed to remove the firearms from his home or secure them in any way. It also said Kim Statler knew that Leonard Statler was in possession of a firearm on the night of the shooting and failed to take any action.
"Combined with alcohol, this was a recipe for disaster," the memo said.
Kim and Leonard Statler and their half-brother Michael were drinking at the residence the night Zapata was shot and killed.
At some point in the evening, after having consumed alcohol, Leonard fired several shots from a handgun outside the house.
The memo said that a witnessed said those first shots were "fun" shots. The witness also said that Kim and Leonard Statler re-entered the house and joked about the cops arriving.
Officers were called to the scene in response to a report of shots fired.
The memo then describes in detail the events leading up to Officer Zapata's death:
"Officer Schipper saw Leonard Statler sitting on his front porch and started to approach Leonard.
"Leonard pulled a handgun from his waist and began shooting at the officer. The officer took cover behind a tree and returned fire, emptying his weapon. When Leonard had emptied his handgun. he picked up a rifle from his porch and began pursuing Officer Schipper on foot. Leonard apparently encountered Officer Eric Zapata, who was also responding to the report, in an alley behind the defendant's residence. Officer Zapata was shot and killed."
Kim Statler followed his brother into the alley.
"Leonard then turned the gun on himself, told Kim he loved him, and fatally shot himself."
After the shooting, officers found Kim Statler on his front porch, "distraught and agitated," according to the memo. He was drinking and was clearly intoxicated.
According to the memo, he told officers, "I'm a convicted felon and there are some rifles in my house and I know they shouldn't be there. I ain't going back to jail over them."
The defendant "described himself as a social drinker who usually consumes alcohol on the weekends," and "reported his past use of alcohol has never-been problematic" in a pre-sentence report, according to the sentencing memo.
But the government said that description is inaccurate.
The government cited several previous incidents as evidence that Statler has a problem with alcohol: Kim Statler was convicted on an open intoxicants charge in 2003. Also in 2003, he was arrested for felonious assault for a fight that occurred while he was intoxicated.
In 2005, he was arrested for domestic violence after assaulting his other brother Jeffery Statler. His blood alcohol content was .155.
In 2007, Statler was convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. His BAC was .178.
The memo recommended that Statler's alcohol problem be taken into account during sentencing and that it should encourage or require him to seek substance abuse treatment.
The maximum penalty for that offense is 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, three years supervised release, and a $100 special assessment, according to the sentencing memo.
The government recommended that Kim Statler II serve at least the minimum 41-51 months required by sentencing guidelines for the crime.
The Associated Press reported that
defense Attorney Keith Turpel said in a Wednesday court filing that he believes that "because of the notorious and heinous nature at what befell Officer Zapata -- the first Kalamazoo police fatality in a century? -- there was sentiment to make someone pay."
There is no evidence that Statler fired a weapon or handed a gun to his brother, Turpel said.
"He has convictions for delivery of marijuana ... and drunk driving. He would not qualify as a career criminal. Frankly, he does not seem to fit the profile of a menace to society," the attorney said, according to the AP.
Kim Statler's sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 28.
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