Prosecutors will not charge two Casper police officers who shot and killed a sword-wielding man in February, Casper police Chief Keith McPheeters said Thursday. The officers have returned to duty.
A gas station surveillance video released Thursday by police shows the man who was killed by police stabbing a lottery machine with a sword and following a worker minutes before his deadly encounter with officers.
A second video, taken from the dash of an officer’s car at the time of the shooting, is largely obscured by the flashing lights of another police vehicle. An officer can be seen retreating alongside the foremost police vehicle and shouting for the man to drop a sword as another officer steps into the video frame. Police guns can be heard firing five rounds before pausing.
Douglas Oneyear, 36, was wielding a sword when two officers shot him shortly before midnight Feb. 25, police say. Oneyear died at the scene after two bullets lodged in his spine.
The two officers, Jonathan Schlager and Cody Meyers, were placed on leave while the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation examined the shooting. They have been back on full duty for weeks, the chief said Thursday.
In video footage taken immediately following the shooting, officers can be heard calling for Oneyear to show his hands multiple times.
An officer then exhales and curses quietly.
WARNING: The video below depicts the shooting. It may not be appropriate for all readers.
McPheeters played both of the videos at a Thursday press conference. The footage of the shooting was taken from Meyers’ vehicle camera. McPheeters said Schlager had attempted twice to activate his video system but the company providing support for the police department’s video systems found a “complete and utter failure of (Schlager’s) video system.”
Prior to showing either video, McPheeters played two 911 calls. One was made by a woman who described a man with a crowbar in the street. The second call came from a gas station attendant who said a man threatened to kill her with a sword.
Until now, Casper police had not released footage of police shootings to the public. In explaining his decision to release the videos, McPheeters cited his desire to operate a transparent department. The chief, who took over in December, called the relationship between the community and police “one of the most sacred relationships there is.”
McPheeters said he met with Oneyear’s family and gave them access to the footage.
Two 911 calls in a matter of minutes
At the press conference, McPheeters gave a minute-by-minute account of the police response and eventual shooting on Feb. 25. The account was pieced together from 911 calls, officer statements, dashboard video and security camera footage.
The first 911 call placed in connection to Oneyear came at 11:29 p.m., according to police. In an audio recording of the call, played during the press conference, a woman can be heard saying a man walking in the middle of 15th Street had attempted to hit her passing car with a “crowbar.”
The caller did not know her exact location but indicated she was east of Wyoming Behavioral Institute, which is located at the street’s intersection with Missouri Avenue, and west of Wyoming Boulevard. She said the man was wearing an orange shirt and black pants or blue jeans while “literally walking dead in the middle of the road.”
The second call to emergency dispatch came about six minutes later, McPheeters said.
A woman who identified herself as an employee of the Loaf N’ Jug at the intersection of 15th Street and Southeast Wyoming Boulevard said a man had come into the store while she was working and threatened to kill her.
She said the man with a sword ordered her to her knees and threatened to kill her before demanding to know what cigarettes she “put poison on” and breaking machines. She described the man as wearing a red hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.
In security camera footage captured without sound from multiple angles at the gas station, a man, whom police identified as Oneyear, can be seen holding a sword as he walks past gas pumps and into the store. Upon entering, Oneyear walks behind the counter while the woman ducks down and out of sight. The woman gets up and moves away from the man, and he raises the sword above his head and stabs a device sitting on the counter.
He follows her through the store before walking back out of the store and past the gas pumps.
Police encounter Oneyear
The two officers respond to the second 911 call about 50 seconds after it was made, McPheeters said Thursday.
The chief said the two officers encountered Oneyear at the intersection of 15th Street and Bretton Drive, near the Quail Run Apartments, where police later learned Oneyear lived.
The footage from Meyers’ dashboard began without sound, a result of the buffering system used by the video recording system. Meyers’ vehicle turns around on Missouri Avenue before turning left onto 15th Street and accelerating to 50 mph.
Another police vehicle can be seen ahead of Meyers’, and the overhead lights on that vehicle begin to flash.
Schlager can be seen stepping from his vehicle and calling for Oneyear to show his hands, then walking backward while pointing his gun down the street. Meyers steps into the frame, and after both officers call for Oneyear to drop the sword, they fire.
Oneyear was pronounced dead around 11:50 p.m. according to the coroner’s office.
After showing the video footage, McPheeters emphasized the need for mental illness awareness and treatment in the press conference. He later declined to say whether Oneyear had ever been diagnosed with a mental illness, citing the dead man’s privacy.
The chief said Oneyear was under the influence of both illicit and prescription drugs when he died, but did not name specific drugs.
McPheeters said the officers had acted appropriately in response to Oneyear’s “steadfast march” toward them. He said less-lethal responses would not have sufficed, and noted the officers’ attempt to retreat before firing their weapons.
Although the officers had been back on full duty for a matter of weeks before the chief’s announcement, McPheeters said his agency had waited to release information in an attempt to be sensitive to Oneyear’s family.