Chief Rules Fatal Shooting By Police Justified

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Chief Rules Fatal Shooting By Police Justified

By Ashlee Pitzl. CREATED Mar 25, 2014

Omaha (KMTV) - Late Tuesday night, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said last week's fatal shooting of a suspect on 11th street was justified.  According to the investigation, police believed Willie Michalak to be armed and dangerous.  Police went to arrest him on multiple violations, including possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

When police from the Metro Fugitive Task Force tried to arrest him, they say Michalak told them they would have to kill him first.  They say he reached for something, and five officers opened fire. In his car, police found a loaded handgun within reach, and 47 grams of meth.  Here is the detailed account released late Tuesday night by Omaha Police:

On Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 5:38 p.m., members of the Metro Area Fugitive Task Force and Omaha Police Gang Unit officers were attempting to effect the arrest of Willie D. Michalak, date of birth 10-12-83, at 2213 S. 11th Street.  Mr. Michalak was wanted for the following felony warrants:

 

1.    Habitual criminal

2.    Attempt of a class II felony

3.    Two counts of burglary

4.    Two counts of theft by unlawful taking over $1,500

5.    Operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest

6.    Willful reckless driving

7.    Possession of a firearm by a prohibited person

 

The officers had also received information that Mr. Michalak was at 2212 South 11th Street and considered him to be armed and dangerous, as well as a flight risk.  The officers involved in this incident met and developed an apprehension plan.  The officers believed that Mr. Michalak was inside of the residence located at 2212 South 11th Street.  As the officers approached and began to take their positions around the residence, they encountered Mr. Michalak, who was sitting in the driver’s seat of a vehicle, that was parked in the driveway between the houses at 2208 and 2212 South 11th Street.  The distance between the two residences provided a very narrow lane for the driveway.  A vehicle was parked in front of Mr. Michalak’s vehicle and the U.S. Marshal’s vehicle was parked behind Mr. Michalak’s vehicle.

 

Upon seeing Mr. Michalak, the officers immediately gave loud verbal commands for him to “show his hands”.  Independent witnesses, who were interviewed, confirmed that they heard the officers giving multiple loud verbal commands.  Mr. Michalak was verbally non-compliant with a Deputy U.S. Marshal, who was positioned at the front passenger side door of the vehicle.  During a very intense and brief response to the verbal commands, Mr. Michalak cursed and threatened to shoot officers.  Mr. Michalak also told the officers that they would have to shoot him.  Additionally, Mr. Michalak’s vehicle was in gear and the tires were spinning on the concrete driveway as the front of his vehicle was pushed up against the vehicle parked in front of him. 

 

Mr. Michalak then took his right hand from the steering wheel and reached down toward his waistband.  This sudden movement put the Deputy U.S. Marshal, who was positioned outside the passenger front door, in fear that Mr. Michalak was reaching for a weapon.  Another officer feared that Mr. Michalak was going to put the vehicle into reverse and run over officers that were standing in short distance between his vehicle and the U.S. Marshal’s vehicle.  When Mr. Michalak reached down toward his waistband officers from multiple agencies fired multiple rounds at him.  Mr. Michalak was struck numerous times and was pronounced dead at the scene.  A 9mm handgun loaded with 15 rounds, with one in the chamber, was found on the floor of the vehicle directly in front of the driver’s seat within arms reach of Mr. Michalak.  Additionally, approximately 47 grams of methamphetamines and approximately one gram of marijuana was recovered from Mr. Michalak’s clothing pockets.

 

Officers from the following agencies fired their duty weapons:

 

•       Deputy U.S. Marshal - armed with a .40 caliber handgun

•       Deputy U.S. Marshal - armed with a 5.56 NATO caliber police tactical rifle

•       Omaha Police Gang Unit Officer – armed with a .45 caliber handgun

•       Omaha Police Gang Unit Officer – armed with a .223 caliber police tactical rifle

•       Immigration and Customs Enforcement – armed with a 9mm handgun

 

All of the firearms that were fired at the scene, were seized by the Omaha Police Department immediately after the incident.  Each firearm will undergo ballistic testing by the Omaha Police Department’s Crime Lab personnel.

 

The Omaha Police Department’s Officer Involved Investigations Squad is investigating this fatal shooting and has briefed Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine.  The United States Marshal Service and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are cooperating with the investigation.  The Metro Area Fugitive Task Force is comprised of personnel from several agencies.  Each agency has its own officer involved-shooting investigation protocol.  The Omaha Police Officers that were involved in this incident were interviewed within 24 hours of the shooting.  The Deputy U.S. Marshals and the ICE Agent, who fired their weapons, were not interviewed until Tuesday, March 25, 2014.  The delay in interviewing the federal agents was due to the protocols of the U.S. Marshal Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  In order to maintain the integrity of the investigation, details of the fatal shooting could not be made public until all involved officers were interviewed. 

The Omaha Police Officers who fired their weapons are:

•       33-year old Emilio Saldierna, a 7-year, 9 month veteran of the Omaha Police Department

 

•       35-year old Stephen Kult, a 6-year, 8 month veteran of the Omaha Police Department

 

The names of the Federal Agents are being withheld at the request of their respective agencies. 

 

"The law enforcement officers utilized deadly force to protect themselves and fellow officers from death or serious bodily injury. Based on my review of the incident, the federal and Omaha police officers involved were justified in their use of deadly force." - Chief Schmaderer