WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — The wife of a man who was fatally shot by Wyoming police after he allegedly opened fire on officers says she hopes her husband will be remembered for more than the violent incident.
Alan James, 31, allegedly starting shooting at officers after they responded to a domestic dispute at his home, wounding Officer Frank Hartuniewicz. Officers returned fire, shooting James in the chest. He was in the hospital for more than a week before family members decided to remove him from life support Saturday morning.
“It was absolutely devastating,” his wife Nicole James said Sunday in her first interview since her husband’s death.
She married Al James in 2009.
“He was loving. He was caring. His passion was fishing,” James remembered Sunday.
Nicole James said her husband suffered from mental illness, was depressed and was reaching out for help.
She showed 24 Hour News 8 a plastic bag filled with medications she said her husband had been prescribed. She said she strongly believes that the mixture of medications caused her husband to act out of character the day of the shooting.
“He was hallucinating. … It was not Alan,” she said.
Police say Al James was armed when he came out of his house and started firing first. Nicole James claims her husband did not start shooting first. She admitted that he came out of their home carrying guns and understands why officers felt threatened, but disputed the claim from police that the guns were pointed at officers.
She said she was able to see parts of the incident from where she sat in a police cruiser in front of the home.
“I called police that day because there was guns laying in my living room and I knew that my husband was not in his right mind,” James said. “I knew that he wasn’t safe and I needed to make sure that he would be safe.”
The Jan. 29 incident wasn’t the first time James had seen violence from her husband. Several years ago, he stabbed her in the neck.
“At that time as well, he was on all the medications,” she said.
Shot in the abdomen, Officer Hartuniewicz was released from the hospital the day after the incident.
“I give my condolences to the family and to the officer and I understand that it’s a hard situation for them as well. And I could only imagine how his wife feels, knowing that she has to send her husband out there in the line of fire all the time,” James said.
She said she will keep working to find out exactly what happened the day of the shooting and why.
“I love him and I will never stop fighting for him and I will always be there for him,” she said. “He’ll always be in my heart.”