PRATT COUNTY —Authorities have completed their review of the fatal November officer-involved shooting in Pratt.
Officers shot 38-year-old Rene Prieto during an incident in the 500 Block of North Main Street in Pratt. Prieto died later at a hospital in Wichita.
After an extensive review of all records and evidence presented and applying the facts to Kansas law, the use of force by the officers of the Pratt Police Department was lawful, according to a media release from Pratt County Attorney Tracey T. Beverlin.
In this matter, the officers of the Pratt Police Department were justified in the use of deadly force against Rene Prieto. Upon arriving at the scene, acting Chief Ward knew the suspect had pointed a gun at two reporting witnesses.
Officer Slief was already engaging the suspect when Ward observed the suspect turn toward him with a pistol pointed at him. Officer Slief remembers seeing the suspect turn around with a gun and at least getting one round off toward Ward. Slief thought Ward had gotten shot because she observed Ward fall to the ground which resulted in her returning fire.
Slief stated she was scared for Jeff. Lt. Shelden observed Ward coming up the Alley and observed the suspect point a black semiautomatic pistol at Ward. Shelden felt he needed to stop the threat. The facts support a showing that the officers sincerely believed the use of force was necessary to defend against themselves and their fellow officers.
It was reasonable for the officers to believe the use of deadly force was necessary due to the actions of Prieto leading up to the officers arrival on scene, the actions of Prieto observed by the officers at the scene, and observance of the act of Prieto pointing the gun and firing at Ward. The completed investigation shows no indication that probable cause exists to support a determination that the officers acted criminally.
Beverlin’s released provided additional details
On November 13, 2018 at approximately 3:40 pm, Pratt Police Department (PPD) was dispatched to the area of the 500 block of North Main area in the City of Pratt, Pratt County, Kansas, in reference to a man with a gun. Reporting witnesses informed the man, later identified as Rene Prieto, was walking a dog, aiming a gun at residents, and hiding in the bushes in the 500 Block of North Jackson Street. Witnesses observed Prieto had a hold of a larger brown dog which he appeared to be having trouble controlling. At one point the dog made a lunge and it pulled at Prieto which made Prieto wave his hand that was not holding the dog and witnesses observed a smaller compact pistol in Prieto’s hand. Prieto began backing up and pointed his gun at witnesses. The witnesses called 911 and during the dispatch call commented that the man looked like he was under the influence of something and that he had pointed what looked like a 9 millimeter Glock at them.
Pratt Police Department Lieutenant (Lt.) James Shelden, Pratt Police Department Officer Rebecca Slief, and Pratt Police Department Acting Chief Jeffrey Ward responded to the area to look for thesuspect. Thesuspectwaslocatedbyofficersoutsideof512NorthMainStreet,Pratt,Kansas, which was Prieto’s residence. Slief and Shelden arrived in marked patrol vehicles and in Pratt Police Department issued uniforms identifying them as police officers. Both patrol vehicles were parked on Main Street in front and north slightly of 512 North Main Street.
Prieto was on the porch area of the residence and then moved to a black Nissan Altima parked in the driveway at 512 North Main Street. Slief observed Prieto slip or stumble while getting off the porch. Slief made the observation that Prieto acted like he was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. Slief attempted to make contact with Prieto by verbally yelling at Prieto but, Prieto made no attempt to look or react to Slief’s communication. Prieto continued to move to the black Nissan.
Prieto was somewhat sitting on the driver’s front seat as Ward approached from the east alley. Slief and Shelden approached from the north side of the residence. Both Slief and Shelden were in lighted positions where an individual could see that Slief and Shelden were wearing uniforms. Prieto would not acknowledge the officers. Ward attempted to gain compliance through verbal commands. PPD Officers did not remember if anyone yelled “Police” but Ward did attempt to get Prieto to show his hands. Ward observed Prieto stand up with a black pistol in Prieto’s right hand. Prieto turned and extended the pistol toward Ward. Slief and Sheldon observed Prieto point the pistol at Ward. Prieto started firing at Ward while advancing from the driver’s door toward Ward. Ward, Shelden, and Slief returned fire striking and incapacitating Prieto. Slief observed Ward fall down, thinking Ward was shot by Prieto, when she returned fire. Prieto fell behind the black Nissan.
Ward sustained injuries to his face and reported he did not know if it was gravel or bullets hitting him. The Crime Scene Response Team documented bullet strikes on the ground in the location Ward was standing. Ward’s clothing exhibited defects consistent with the passage of a bullet.
Pratt County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) was notified and in route prior to officers approaching and securing Prieto. EMS provided medical treatment to Prieto and transported him to Pratt Regional Medical Center. Prieto was then transported in critical condition to Via Christi Hospital St. Francis.
A search warrant was obtained and a search was conducted on the residence at 512 North Main Street. Located inside the residence on the kitchen counter was a container holding alcohol that had been opened and was partially empty. Multiple cartridge casings were located outside of the residence where each PPD Officer was standing and where Prieto was standing. There was a Glock 9mm pistol located beside Prieto. All PPD Officer firearms’, recovered cartridge casings, Prieto’s pistol, and a bullet recovered from a shed east of the residence were collected and sent for testing and comparison to KBI Forensic Laboratory Firearm and Toolmark Section in Topeka, KS. A forensic scientist completed comparisons showing that cartridge casings were matched to each pistol (PPD Officers’ and Prieto’s) and the recovered bullet from a shed that was shot by Prieto toward Ward matched Prieto’s pistol. Three cartridge casings were recovered from Prieto’s location. Medical records indicated Prieto did not have narcotics located in a blood toxicology screen but Prieto did have a high and critical blood alcohol content of 274.2 MG/DL.
Prieto remained at Via Christi Hospital on life-support until family discontinued life-support. On November 21, 2018, Rene Prieto succumbed to injuries at approximately 11:54 am. The Pratt County Coroner (on-call) ordered a full autopsy on the body of Prieto. The provisional autopsy report indicated the following: Cause of death was a gunshot to the head. Injuries included entry wound to left frontotemporal scalp, exit wound to forehead with pathway left to right and back to front, resulting in perforation of skull and brain. There was healing graze wounds located on right forearm and right face. The complete and formal autopsy report is still pending.
PRATT COUNTY – The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) is investigating an officer involved shooting that occurred Tuesday evening outside a residence in Pratt, Kan.
According to a media release, just before 4 p.m., the Pratt Police Department received a call reporting a man on the street who was waving a gun. When responding officers arrived at 512 N. Main St. in Pratt, they encountered an armed man outside, north of the residence. The man was later identified as Rene Prieto, 38, of Pratt.
As officers approached Prieto, attempting to make contact with him, he fired at one of the officers. Three officers returned fire. Prieto was injured by gunfire. Officers secured Prieto and the scene, and called EMS.
Prieto was transported to a Wichita hospital in critical condition. No law enforcement officers were injured during the incident.
The KBI will complete a thorough and independent investigation into this incident. Once the investigation is completed, the findings will be turned over to the Pratt County Attorney for review.