Prosecutor: Kentwood officer justified in shooting death

Timothy Arnold. (Courtesy Stroo Funeral Home)

KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent County prosecutor says the Kentwood officer who shot and killed a man last month was justified in his actions.

In a statement released on Thursday, Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth said it appears Timothy Arnold, 47, intended to die by suicide by cop and Officer Jonathon Carter was within his rights when he shot and killed Arnold.

A man was shot and killed at the Sutton Club Apartments in Kentwood. (Oct. 22, 2015)
(A man was shot and killed at the Sutton Club Apartments in Kentwood./Oct. 22, 2015)

Police were called to the Sutton Club Apartments in the area of 60th Street and Kalamazoo Avenue SE on Oct. 21 following reports that a 47-year-old resident of the complex had threatened to kill himself.

After repeatedly knocking on the door without getting an answer, one of the officers went around to the outside of the apartment while Officer Carter stayed in the hallway. Moments later, police say, Arnold came out into the hallway and fired at Officer Carter, but missed even though he was only 3 feet away.

Officer Carter then grabbed his gun and returned fire, hitting Arnold with three rounds.

“Because of his position near the stairs, Officer Carter had no escape route and no place to take cover. As such, he chose the only option available to him; he pulled his weapon and shot Mr. Arnold. Without question, Officer Carter honestly and reasonably believed that the use of deadly force in self-defense was justified. Under the circumstances of this case, any reasonable police officer would have done the same,” wrote prosecutor Forsyth.

Arnold was apparently troubled by his pending divorce.

His wife called police after he texted her about committing suicide the night of the shooting. Police later discovered Arnold had also conducted a Google search for “suicide with a gun” on Sept. 11.

“Perhaps he had concluded that he did not want to shoot himself but would rather have the police do it for him; if that was his ultimate plan, he certainly succeeded. It might also explain why and how he missed Officer Carter from a distance only 3 feet; i.e., his intention was never to shoot officer Carter but rather to have Officer Carter shoot him,” wrote Forsyth.

Carter is a six-year veteran of the Kentwood Police Department.

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