Fre­do­nia of­fi­cer won’t face charges in fa­tal shoot­ing

Vic­tim had LSD, co­caine in sys­tem

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Harold McNeil NEWS STAFF RE­PORTER

Gue­orgui Penev, 23, was suf­fer­ing “acute in­tox­i­ca­tion of co­caine and LSD” and ex­hibit­ing “ag­i­tated, vi­o­lent, self-in­ju­ri­ous be­hav­ior” when he was fa­tally shot by a Fre­do­nia of­fi­cer Dec. 10, the Chau­tauqua DA said Fri­day at a news con­fer­ence held to an­nounce the of­fi­cer would not be charged.

Chau­tauqua County Dis­trict At­tor­ney Patrick E. Swanson said Fri­day there was no ev­i­dence to sup­port fil­ing crim­i­nal charges against Of­fi­cer Nathaniel Scriven, who shot and killed Penev, known as “George.

The Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s Of­fice Fri­day re­leased video from Scriven’s po­lice body cam­era that showed the of­fi­cer’s con­fronta­tion with a bloody, shirt­less George Penev, who, armed with a knife, ap­peared to be chas­ing Scriven in the snow. Penev ig­nored re­peated or­ders by Scriven to drop the knife. The video shows Penev con­tin­u­ing to ad­vance to­ward the of­fi­cer even af­ter being shot twice by Scriven. Penev fell to the ground af­ter being shot two more times by the of­fi­cer.

Of­fi­cers were re­spond­ing at the time to a non-emer­gency med­i­cal well-being check at an ad­dress on Lib­erty Street, where Penev had locked him­self in a sec­ond-floor bath­room.

“Un­be­knownst to the first re­spon­ders, Mr. Penev was suf­fer­ing acute in­tox­i­ca­tion of co­caine and LSD and ex­hibit­ing al­tered state, with ag­i­tated, vi­o­lent, self-in­ju­ri­ous be­hav­ior,” Swanson said.

When Scriven ar­rived, Penev burst from the bath­room door and at­tempted to as­sault the of­fi­cer, Swanson said.

“Mr. Penev chased Of­fi­cer Scriven out of the res­i­dence, across the yard and down the ad­ja­cent prop­erty’s drive­way be­fore Of­fi­cer Scriven was left with no choice but to fire his weapon. When he fired the first two shots, Mr. Penev was just feet away, knife still in hand,” Swanson said. “Mr. Penev stum­bled, but con­tin­ued to chase the of­fi­cer, who fired two more shots as Mr. Penev con­tin­ued to ad­vance. The en­counter then ended.”

Swanson added that “Noth­ing in our in­ves­ti­ga­tion sug­gests that [Penev’s] ac­tions that day were con­sis­tent with his char­ac­ter. By all ac­counts, Mr. Penev was a well-liked young man. He had car­ing par­ents. He worked for his fam­ily busi­ness.”

Swanson said tox­i­col­ogy re­ports showed Penev had co­caine, LSD and other nar­cotics in his sys­tem. An ex­am­i­na­tion re­vealed nu­mer­ous mi­nor and ma­jor force in­juries to Penev’s head, neck, chest and up­per body, in­juries that would have proven fa­tal ab­sent the shoot­ing, of­fi­cials said.

Swanson said footage of the in­ci­dent se­cured from Scriven’s body cam­era was vi­tal in help­ing ex­on­er­ate the of­fi­cer. “The body cam­era footage that he was wear­ing that day cap­tured 95 per­cent of what hap­pened,” he said.

He said the shoot­ing was in­ves­ti­gated by his of­fice, with as­sis­tance from Fre­do­nia Po­lice and the Chau­tauqua County Sher­iff’s Of­fice, in­clud­ing in­ter­views with more than 20 wit­nesses – among them Scriven, other po­lice per­son­nel, emer­gency re­spon­ders, med­i­cal ex­am­in­ers and civil­ians be­fore au­thor­i­ties de­ter­mined that Scriven was not li­able in Penev’s death.

“My eth­i­cal obli­ga­tions pro­hibit me from lay­ing charges where there is no prob­a­ble cause to sup­port them. There is no ev­i­dence to sup­port any charges against Of­fi­cer Scriven,” Swanson said. “His ac­tions were both law­ful and ap­pro­pri­ate. We are clos­ing this case.”

In­for­ma­tion un­cov­ered dur­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion led to the ar­rest Fri­day of a SUNY Fre­do­nia Col­lege stu­dent, Amanda Bridges, of Erie County, who is ac­cused of sup­ply­ing nar­cotics to Penev.

Swanson said Bridges was charged with the crim­i­nal sale of a con­trolled sub­stance and crim­i­nal pos­ses­sion of a con­trolled sub­stance with in­tent to sell.

Fre­do­nia Po­lice Chief Bradley C. Mey­ers said the LSD found in Penev’s sys­tem is a nar­cotic that Fre­do­nia po­lice of­fi­cers do not con­front as of­ten as crys­tal meth and heroin. Mey­ers said that the drug house from which the nar­cotics came that were al­legedly sold to Penev was not on the radar of Fre­do­nia po­lice.” This par­tic­u­lar house was not on our radar as a house that was sell­ing drugs on a reg­u­lar ba­sis,” Mey­ers said.

Penev worked for his fam­ily’s truck­ing com­pany, help­ing to ar­range lo­gis­tics. His Face­book page in­di­cated he grad­u­ated from Iroquois High School and stud­ied at Erie Com­mu­nity Col­lege.

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