WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — A police officer was justified in fatally shooting a man in Wyoming last month, the Kent County prosecutor has decided.
In a Tuesday release, Prosecutor William Forsyth said Wyoming Officer Chad Wells had reason to believe that Sadiq Bishara-Abaker Idris posed a threat to his safety.
“This is pretty straightforward,” Forsyth told 24 Hour News 8 of his decision.
In the late afternoon of Sept. 7, the prosecutor said in the release, Idris stole a $699 Heckler & Koch .40-caliber handgun from Al & Bob’s Sports on S. Division Avenue, north of 32nd Street.
About an hour and a half later, he was spotted walking on 32nd Street, less than a mile from Al & Bob’s. A father and son recognized him from a police description and followed him in their vehicle, reporting his location to 911 dispatchers.
Wells was the first officer on the scene and found Idris walking along 32nd near Eastern Avenue. He said he saw the handgun in Idris’ back pocket.
“Let me see your hands! Stop! Stop!” Wells can be heard ordering Idris in the dash cam video from his cruiser, which was released Tuesday.
Instead, the dash cam video shows, Idris pulled the gun from his back pocket and pointed it at Wells. Idris did not say anything. Wells drew his own sidearm, firing five shots and shooting Idris.
Wells took a knee as he fired and the father and son initially thought that Idris had shot him.
“He’s got a gun. He’s got a gun,” the father can be heard telling dispatchers in a recording. “Oh my God, he just shot him, pulled out a gun and shot him.”
Wells, however, was not shot.
“Shots fired, shots fired, shots fired,” he can be heard reporting over his radio in the dash cam video. “Let me see your hands! Let me see your hands!” he shouted at Idris again.
Idris was pronounced dead at the scene despite efforts to save him.
An autopsy revealed he died of a single gunshot wound to the upper right chest. Toxicology tests didn’t show alcohol or drugs. The Kent County medical examiner said a “trace” amount of cocaine was detected in Idris’ system, but that it was not enough to have affected his behavior.
The gun Idris was holding was the one stolen from Al & Bob’s, the prosecutor said. It was not loaded.
Forsyth told 24 Hour News 8 there’s no information about where Idris was, what he did or who, if anyone, he saw between stealing the gun and when he was spotted by witnesses.
He wrote there was no way Wells could have known that the gun was unloaded and that he “honestly and reasonably believed that he was in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm and that it appeared immediately necessary for him to use deadly force.”
“I don’t know what else he would have done or could’ve done. You’ve been told to ‘stop, stop, let me see your hands’ and your response to that is to turn around and point the gun at the officer? I don’t know what you expect going to happen other than what happened here,” Forsyth said. “Nobody would expect in their right mind the officer to stand there and wait for him to pull the trigger and say, ‘Oh, gee, the gun’s loaded. I guess I better shoot back at him.'”
Forsyth told 24 Hour News 8 there is only speculation as to why Idris would point an unloaded gun at a police officer.
“He didn’t say anything when he turned and pointed the gun at the officer. I don’t think we’ll ever know,” he said. “People do things for reasons you’ll never know. Some of them are inexplicable.”
Idris, 25, was a refugee from Sudan who moved to the U.S. a few years ago. He spent a few months in jail in Virginia for an unknown charge. He had been living in Kentwood at the time of the shooting. Forsyth said he had been at Al & Bob’s 10 days prior and asked about getting a gun. He had started paperwork to get a gun but didn’t finish it.
Police interviews with Idris’ family overseas and his roommate in West Michigan have not helped shed light on why he stole the weapon or pointed it at the officer. Kent County Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said Tuesday that authorities simply don’t know if Idris was mentally ill or suicidal.
“It’s disappointing and obviously we’re hoping for the best for everybody involved,” she said.