ST. LOUIS (AP) — A police officer won’t face charges for fatally shooting an intruder at his suburban St. Louis home who had argued with the officer online over the Black Lives Matter movement, according to a prosecutor’s report released Thursday.
Prosecutor Bob McCulloch provided The Associated Press with his report concluding that the officer acted “reasonably and lawfully” when he shot Tyler Gebhard, 20, on July 9. McCulloch cited a Missouri law, known as the “castle doctrine,” that allows homeowners to use lethal force against intruders.
Authorities have not named the officer, who was not on duty when the confrontation occurred. The officer’s wife, mother-in-law, 2-year-old daughter and 2-month-old daughter were in the family’s Lakeshire home when Gebhard broke in by throwing a 50-pound concrete planter through a window. The officer confronted the intruder as his family hid in a bedroom.
Relatives of Gebhard have said he suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. There was no phone listing for Gebhard’s uncle, Patrick Brogan, who has previously spoken out about his nephew’s difficulties.
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Brogan has said Gebhard, who was biracial, empathized with the Black Lives Matter objectives but did not participate in protests.
McCulloch’s report said Gebhard and the officer were acquainted through a church group and had argued on Facebook about Black Lives Matter. The report said Gebhard was impaired by marijuana use and had spoken of killing police officers.
During the confrontation at the officer’s home, Gebhard referred to himself as “Jesus” and lunged at the officer, who fell and fired a shot that grazed Gebhard’s neck, McCulloch wrote.
When Gebhard came at the officer again, he fired two more shots, striking Gebhard in the chest. Gebhard died at a hospital.
Evidence “clearly establishes” that the officer “was justified in using deadly force to protect himself and his family against the unlawful entry made by Gebhard into the residence,” McCulloch said in the report.
The report said Gebhard had been to the home a day earlier and spoke to the officer’s wife, saying he could not trust police.