Try 1 month for 99¢

Police shot and killed a man while serving a search warrant Sunday night at his Casper home, authorities said Monday.

Officials identified the man as 27-year-old Christopher Benton. He died at the scene.

Officers entered Benton’s home and “encountered an armed male presenting lethal force toward the officers,” according to a statement from Police Chief Jim Wetzel that was released late Monday afternoon.

Benton’s actions led to an officer firing at him, the release states. Benton died from gunshot wounds.

The search warrant was based on allegations of distributing and trafficking drugs and illegal gun possession, Wetzel said.

No officers were injured during the shooting. A police spokesman said Monday he wasn't sure how many officers fired their weapons during the incident.

Casper police have asked the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation to look into the shooting. Phone calls to DCI by the Star-Tribune went unreturned Monday.

Wetzel said the police department will also conduct an internal investigation to ensure the officers’ actions were in accordance with department policies.

The officers directly involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation, as is standard practice following police shootings.

The release did not say how many officers were placed on leave. Nor did it specify the type of lethal force that Benton allegedly displayed toward officers.

“While the investigation by DCI is still underway, as the facts and circumstances have been relayed to me, I commend the professionalism and conduct of our officers involved in this tragic incident,” Wetzel said.

He asked that everyone remain patient as the shooting is investigated.

Police said the shooting took place just before 8 p.m. Sunday on the 1600 block of Kit Carson in a working-class neighborhood just east of the Central Wyoming Fairgrounds.

Authorities removed the man's body from the home at about 11:20 a.m. Monday and placed it in a coroner's pickup, which was parked in the driveway. An autopsy will be conducted later this week, according to the coroner's office.

The entire yard and home were blocked off by crime tape. An officer and a Natrona County sheriff's deputy were at the scene, along with people in civilian clothes who appeared to be handling evidence.

A woman who lives across the street from the home said she heard four to five gunshots around 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Denise Mestas said when she and her mother looked out the window, they saw several police cars and officers outside.

"They all had their guns pointed toward the house," Mestas said. "They were huge guns, machine-type guns."

The gunshots sounded like they had come from outside the house, she added.

Mestas didn't hear anything for about an hour. Then, between 8:30 and 9 p.m., she saw a SWAT team enter the home. She heard yelling and what she believed were more gunshots, Mestas said. When the SWAT team members reappeared, they started wrapping crime tape around the home.

Mestas said she never spoke with Benton. It appeared that at some point a woman with children also lived at the house, she added.

People came and went from the home all the time, Mestas said.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Follow crime and courts reporter Lillian Schrock on Twitter @lillieschrock.



Load comments