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Three officers cleared in fatal shooting

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Gazette staff
August 7, 2010
— A Walworth County sheriff’s deputy and two town of Geneva police officers were justified in the fatal shooting of a suicidal man who failed to follow orders to drop his weapon, Walworth County District Attorney Phil Koss has ruled.

Walworth County Deputy Scott Smith and Town of Geneva officers Ken Mulhollon and Jason Sweeney have been restored to full duty.


The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation into the shooting with assistance from the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office.


Koss made his determination July 29.


Koss concluded that the July 13 shooting of Roman Petriw was “privileged and in the use of either self defense or defense of others,” according to a news release.


The incident began the morning of July 13, when town of Geneva police officers and Walworth County sheriff’s deputies were called to a residence where the property owner reported that Petriw was suicidal, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.


Lucian J. Lange had been at the home near the north shore of Lake Como to talk to Petriw, Sheriff David Graves said. Lange saw Petriw had two guns, believed he was suicidal and called police, Graves said.


Officers and deputies arrived to find Petriw inside the home armed with two handguns, according to the news release.


Officers and deputies gave Petriw instructions to drop the guns, but he refused, shot himself in the torso with each handgun and dropped the weapons. They ordered Petriw to keep his hands up, but he reached for the weapons, according to the news release.


Smith, Mulhollon and Sweeney fired their weapons at Petriw simultaneously, according to the release.


Lange, a childhood friend of Petriw, had offered his family vacation home as a temporary safe haven, he said.


He was going to take Petriw to a homeless shelter in Chicago on the morning of the shooting, but they argued and Petriw pulled two handguns, Lange said.


Lange left the house and called police.


Petriw was sitting on the porch when police arrived. He said, “What took you so long?” to a deputy who walked past him. He also asked officers to move so that they wouldn’t be hit with any shots from his guns.



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