Bryan police chief says shooting of unarmed man Sunday was justified

Published: Feb. 13, 2017 at 3:19 PM CST
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Bryan's police chief believes one of his officers was justified in the shooting an unarmed man Sunday night during a disturbance call on Mallard Drive.

Officer Steven Laughlin, 27, is now on routine administrative leave after shooting the man who reportedly made threatening gestures and remarks to Laughlin and another officer on the scene.

During a Monday afternoon news conference, Bryan Police Chief Eric Buske said the officers were sent to the home after getting reports of a disturbance involving a woman and her ex-boyfriend.

"We received two separate calls to that address. One from the mother of the involved female and one from the female herself," said Chief Buske. "She said the male was at her house and was not supposed to be there. She advised the male was not supposed to be there and he had been arrested previously and a protection order had recently expired."

While speaking with the woman, officers said the man showed up at the house and he became aggressive with police.

"Officer Laughlin casually approached him and attempted to interact with him. The male then placed his right hand in his back pocket and refused to remove it despite multiple commands from Officer Laughlin to do so."

Officers say the 33-year-old black man made several statements including "are you ready" and "I ain't dropping nothing." Chief Buske says the man was moving in the direction of the female, but continued making remarks to the officers including "are you ready?"

Officer Laughlin said to the man "don't do this" and the man responded "do it, man."

"He continued to act like he had a handgun. The man then rapidly pulled out a black object from his back pocket and took a shooting stance and pointed it at Officer Lauglin," said Chief Buske.

Officer Laughlin then fired his gun several times and hit the man an unknown number of times.

"Officer Laughlin believed the black object was a gun and he was in immediate fear for his well-being," said Chief Buske.

The black object was a cell phone.

The man was taken to a hospital where his condition continues to improve, according to police. The female was unharmed.

Chief Buske says the incident was captured on a police body camera, and the department is working with the District Attorney's Office to determine when it should be released for public viewing.

At this time the man is not being charged with a crime so police are not releasing his name or criminal history.

The Bryan Police Department has initiated two investigations into this incident. The criminal case is currently being investigated by members of the Criminal Investigation Division and an internal affairs investigation is being conducted by members of the Professional Standards Division. Additionally, the Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers are conducting a parallel investigation.

It is the policy of the Bryan Police Department to place officers involved in shootings on administrative leave pending the results of an administrative review of their actions.

"I believe policy was followed," said Chief Buske.

Officer Laughlin was hired by Bryan police in January 2013 and has been decorated several times.

A representative of the NAACP attended Monday's news conference.