CINCINNATI (AP) — A police officer who killed a knife-wielding robbery suspect had no choice but to open fire, his chief said Monday.
“This was a vicious, violent attack on the officer,” police Chief Eliot Isaac said. “This officer had no other course of action.”
The county prosecutor agreed, informing police that he found Officer Anthony Brucato’s actions justified and there was no need to take the case to a grand jury.
“It is clear this assailant attempted to cause serious physical harm to Officer Brucato,” Prosecutor Joe Deters said in a statement.
Deters said he viewed surveillance video of the violent Sunday morning encounter at Government Square downtown, and reviewed police reports. Deters said the 25-year-old suspect, Jawari Porter, tried to stab Brucato with a “folding lock-blade-style knife.” He and his fellow officer were wearing bulletproof vests; Brucato suffered a forearm abrasion, Deters said.
The soundless surveillance video from an overhead angle shows a man lunging at an officer in the driver’s seat of a police vehicle that had just stopped on the street behind him, then quickly being pulled backward and down onto a sidewalk by another officer.
Police said Porter was suspected of robbing a Cincinnati grocery store 20 minutes earlier by holding a knife on a security guard. Isaac said two officers investigating the robbery spotted Porter on foot and pulled over their vehicle.
Brucato, a 25-year police veteran, was getting out of the driver’s side when Porter charged him, Isaac said. Police said it’s believed Brucato fired six times, striking Porter multiple times.
Porter died at the scene. The other officer didn’t fire, the chief said.
Mayor John Cranley said: “We could have been in a situation where an officer was killed. This man tried to kill a Cincinnati police officer, viciously.”
Court records show Porter last year was ruled incompetent to stand trial and was ordered into mental health treatment.
Hamilton County court documents show a judge in September 2015 found Porter was mentally ill when he had faced charges of assault and resisting arrest. A July 2015 police affidavit stated Porter continued to try to attack an assault victim while and after police used a stun gun on him.
An assistant public defender who represented Porter last year said the office’s involvement ended after the case moved to probate court.
Sunday’s was the third fatal shooting this year of a suspect by an on-duty Cincinnati police officer.
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