FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — A Maryland State Police trooper who fatally shot a man last year during a chaotic confrontation in a gas station parking lot told investigators he feared for his life but saw no weapon in the suspect’s possession, according to the agency’s investigation.
Trooper 1st Class William Jansen reasonably believed Kevin Brunson was armed because he knew that the SUV Brunson was driving — the same vehicle Brunson had used to ram a Frederick city police cruiser moments earlier — had been stolen by an armed man in Baltimore the previous day, state police spokesman Greg Shipley said Wednesday.
No gun was found at the gas station but Jansen saw Brunson reaching toward his waistband as he charged toward the trooper after leaping from the SUV, Shipley said in a statement. Brunson, 45, of Baltimore, had a folding knife in his pocket when he was shot on Oct. 26, 2015, investigators found.
“The Maryland State Police has found the trooper’s use of force to be objectively reasonable,” Shipley wrote. “He reasonably believed the suspect was armed and he had just witnessed him use deadly force.”
Jansen, a five-year state police veteran assigned to the agency’s aviation division, had responded to a call for assistance at the gas station, located near the aviation command hangar, Shipley said.
He told investigators he feared for his life and the lives of others when Brunson ignored his commands and reached toward his waistband, according to an interview transcript obtained Tuesday by The Frederick News-Post.
“I felt that the suspect was going to use deadly force against me so I fired my Glock 22” Jansen said.
The Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office also investigated the shooting and declined to prosecute Jansen.
Jansen is white, and Brunson was black. Race has not been raised as a factor in the shooting, but it came amid a national debate about the deaths of black men at the hands of police.
An earlier version of this story was corrected to show the shooting occurred Oct. 26, not Oct. 25.