KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting says two Kalamazoo city police officers were justified in shooting and killing a man who opened fire on them, so they will not be charged.
“I review everything in a situation like this. I believe deadly force was the appropriate response,” Getting said.
Getting announced his decision during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, at which point he also shared more details of the shooting that left Brandon Stacey, 31, dead.
The prosecutor also showed building surveillance and officer body camera video of the March 12 shooting at Biomat USA Plasma Center on E. Kalamazoo Avenue downtown. A freeze frame from the surveillance video shows Stacey with both hands on his gun, pointing it at a police officer moments before gunfire was exchanged. Getting says that frame was crucial to his conclusion.
The surveillance video shows Stacey enter Biomat, where he had worked for less than a year, and then fire one round into the ceiling. Someone called 911.
Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Officers Brendan Westrick and Emily Weston were the first on the scene of what was reported as an active shooter.
“They’re not waiting for the SWAT team to arrive, they’re not waiting for overwhelming force from all of the rest of the departments that are responding. They’re all on their way, but at that point in time there’s no waiting,” Getting said.
They went in and found Stacey just inside. He opened fire on them and they shot back.
Getting said that in all, 27 rounds were fired. Stacey was struck by four. Officers attempted to save his life, but he died at the scene.
Westrick was hit in the holster and twice in the chest. His bulletproof vest absorbed the shots to his chest and he wasn’t injured by the shot that passed through his holster. Getting showed the vest at Tuesday’s press conference. He said the day of the shooting was the first time Westrick had worn it.
Getting added that Westrick wasn’t supposed to be on the street that day.
“When this 911 call comes out, he happens to be here downtown in Kalamazoo and the closest person available. He immediately responds to the call,” Getting said.
Getting praised Weston’s bravery for continuing to engage Stacey even after her fellow officer had been shot. No one else was hurt.
Stacey had no prior criminal history but he had mental health challenges, including two suicide attempts, one of which happened in February at Biomat. Before the shooting, Stacey’s wife asked him to move out, Getting said.
“Whether he was, as he had previously spoken about, intending for his life to be taken, there’s reason to believe that — but there are ways to do that without trying to kill someone else,” Getting said.
Getting said Stacey legally bought the 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun he used in the shooting. Stacey’s family was holding on to it because they believed it wasn’t a good idea for him to have it. Getting said Stacey had retrieved the gun from a family member, telling that person he was going target shooting.