BCPD officers justified in shooting at 19-year-old

An undated courtesy photo of Koddy Campbell.

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Battle Creek police officers were justified when they opened fire on an armed 19-year-old last month, the Calhoun County prosecutor ruled.

In a decision released Tuesday, Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert said police reports and dash cam video show Battle Creek Police Department Officers Charles Pelfrey and Carl VanDyke were justified in the use of deadly force against Koddy Campbell.

Campbell was pronounced dead at a local hospital following the May 10 officer-involved shooting on the Linear Park path behind the Calhoun County Jail. His death was ruled a suicide.

Campbell stole a loaded handgun on the day of his death and said he wanted to “commit suicide by having an officer kill him,” Prosecutor Gilbert wrote in his decision. Family members previously told 24 Hour News 8 that Campbell struggled with mental illness.

Officers spotted Campbell on the Linear Park path around 11:07 a.m. on May 10. Four officers approached him, boxing him in with the river to his back.

The confrontation lasted only about 17 seconds, according to the prosecutor’s report, during which officers repeatedly ordered Campbell to show his hands. He reached into his pants pocket and pulled a gun, then put his hands in the air with the gun in his right hand.

VanDyke first approached holding a Taser, Gilbert said, but dropped it and drew his sidearm when Campbell displayed the gun.

“He (Campbell) looked around at officers and chose a posture such that Officer Charles Pelfrey felt Mr. Campbell had settled on him for a final confrontation,” Gilbert wrote in part. “Mr. Campbell did not drop the gun, even though ordered to do so about 24 times in the 14 seconds he had the gun in his hand before pointing it at his own head and immediately pulling the trigger.”

The officers opened fire when they saw the gun move, Gilbert said. A total of three shots were fired — one from Campbell and one from each Pelfrey and VanDyke — but even with video of the incident it’s not entirely clear who fired first.

VanDyke’s shot did not strike Campbell, Gilbert said, but Pelfrey’s did. That shot, a pathologist determined, was not fatal. The death was ruled a suicide.

But Gilbert wasn’t ruling on whether the death was suicide — he had to decide whether the officers were justified in opening fire. He said they were because they had reason to believe Campbell was a danger to them or others.

Pelfrey and VanDyke were placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which is standard procedure. It was not immediately clear when they’ll be back to work.

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