DA: Lethal force justified in police-involved shooting at Chambersburg Hospital

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal has issued a press release, calling actions by officers in last week’s police-involved shooting at Chambersburg Hospital “absolutely and unequivocally justified under the circumstances.”

A patient, armed with a knife, threatened to kill hospital staff last Thursday before he attacked law enforcement officers, authorities said.

Police identified the patient as 64-year-old Dennis Kirk.

Kirk’s behavior prompted several “code greens” at the hospital, which designates violent behavior.

He was under constant supervision given that he was prone to falls. The nurse assigned to supervising him last Thursday morning was threatened when Kirk become agitated, believing he was being properly detained, according to a release.

Kirk pulled out two knives and moved towards the nurse with the tip of one of the knives facing himself, investigators said.

The nurse left the room safely while other staff called for a code green. Kirk was kept in his room by staff.

Two deputy sheriffs from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office were already in the hospital and responded to the incident. They allege that Kirk shouted expletives and told them to “Come in here and die.”

Four police officers from the Chambersburg Police Department then arrived, authorities said. Kirk continued to respond with expletives and called the officers “Pigs.” As he walked away from the door and to the far end of the room, officers entered and used a Taser.

A release states the Taser was unable to penetrate Kirk’s leather coat he was wearing. Another Taser was used as officers demanded Kirk to put down the knives and get on the ground. As he continued towards the officers, Kirk was again subject to another Taser deployment.

Once Kirk moved close enough to make contact with an officer’s arm, another officer fired two rounds from his firearm.

Hospital staff treated Kirk right away, but he died of his gunshot wounds.

Fogal’s press release, issued Wednesday, included the following reasoning behind the justification of the fatal shooting:

Every citizen is permitted to use force to prevent injury to themselves and others, and every citizen is even permitted to use deadly force to prevent the death or serious bodily injury of themselves or others. Police officers are certainly likewise permitted to use deadly force under the same circumstances as every other citizen. Here the use of deadly force was not only permitted, it was necessary in order to protect another from being stabbed. Certainly, no one delights in taking the life of another, but the actions of all of these law enforcement officers were utterly reasonable, appropriate and correct. Given the real threat that the deceased voiced and later attempted to act upon, I am very happy that no officers were injured or worse. Our community has been once again reminded of the perils and risks our law enforcement officers undertake every single day when they go to work. Their selfless service and dedication to protecting all of us deserves our respect and admiration.

No other patients, visitors or staff members were injured.

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