D.A.: Trooper jus­ti­fied in fa­tal shoot­ing after chase

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS -

LE­BANON, PA. >> A state trooper who shot a man armed with a knife after a foot chase last year in Penn­syl­va­nia was jus­ti­fied in fir­ing and will not face any charges in the man’s death, a pros­e­cu­tor said.

Au­thor­i­ties said troop­ers in Le­banon County went to serve a war­rant on Mitchell Ham­mer in Palmyra on Dec. 18 but he ran off into the woods. Po­lice said a foot chase ended after a con­fronta­tion be­tween Ham­mer, 27, of An­nville, who had a Bowie-style knife, and a trooper who opened fire.

Dis­trict At­tor­ney David Arnold told re­porters last week that Ham­mer ran into a muddy area with brush and thorn bushes and found him­self trapped be­tween the Swatara Creek on one side and cliffs on two other sides. The lone pur­su­ing trooper didn’t re­al­ize that his es­cape was blocked, he said.

Arnold said the trooper told Ham­mer re­peat­edly to stop run­ning and drop the knife, but in­stead the man ad­vanced with the knife in a threat­en­ing man­ner. The trooper slipped in the mud and fell onto his back and Ham­mer con­tin­ued to ad­vance with the knife, and the trooper then shot him sev­eral times, he said. Arnold said Ham­mer fell to his knees but got back to his feet, and the trooper fired sev­eral more times. In to­tal, he fired nine shots, hit­ting Ham­mer seven times, Arnold said.

Arnold said the trooper, who has re­cently re­turned to duty, could not have avoided us­ing deadly force without jeop­ar­diz­ing his own safety and that of oth­ers.

“Quite frankly, his quick and his proper re­sponse may well have saved his own life and po­ten­tially the lives of his fel­low troop­ers,” he said.

Arnold said other in­ves­ti­ga­tors ex­am­ined the scene and con­firmed the treach­er­ous na­ture of the ter­rain, the knife in the creek and the smear marks where the trooper fell, back­ing up his story. Arnold said a pathol­ogy re­port con­firmed that Ham­mer was un­der the in­flu­ence of crys­tal metham­phetamine, a drug he said can give the user “al­most su­per­hu­man strength.”

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