STAMFORD, Conn. — Two Stamford police officers were justified when they shot a 25-year-old man to death after he pointed a gun at them last year during a standoff outside his home, prosecutors said in a lengthy report issued Friday.
Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III ruled that Stamford police Lt. Christopher Baker and Sgt. Steven Perrotta acted legally in using deadly force to defend themselves and others when they shot Dylan Pape with their rifles on March 21, 2016.
Baker fired twice and Perrotta fired once when Pape pointed a gun at them after refusing to obey commands to drop it outside his home 119 Wedgemere Road, the report said.
Pape was armed with what appeared to be a black pistol but was later determined to be a XBG Semi Auto BB Pistol capable of firing .177 BBs. The pistol looked like an actual semi-automatic pistol that could fire bullets.
The incident began at 7:40 p.m. March 21 when Pape called 911, pretending to be his father, and said, "Hi 119 Wedgemere Road. My son has a gun" and that Dylan had made a threat "to do it."
Many officers and the Special Response Team, including Baker and Perrotta, responded to the home. Officers with weapons, police cars and K9 officers surrounded the home during the hourlong standoff as it grew dark.
For an hour, police, family members and others spoke to Pape, who was holding the weapon while pacing in the driveway. He was repeatedly told to drop the gun, that he was loved and that if he continued to get close to the police the K-9 police dog would be released.
Music was blaring from his car, and Pape was also smoking cigarettes.
At 8:42 p.m., Pape again approached officers with the gun in his hand and Perrotta ordered the police dog to be released. As the dog made contact with Pape, he raised his right hand holding the pistol and was shot. Pape later died of his injuries at the hospital.
One neighbor who witnessed the events said, "He had a weapon. And the police tried and tried and tried. The officers attempted to use positive supportive statements to gain Dylan’s cooperation. From everything I saw, I believe Dylan was on a mission."
Linda Pape, Dylan's mother, said she believes the police did not handle the situation properly, saying she and her husband did not feel threatened by their son.
Richard Pape, his father, said he told police that he could talk to his son during the incident but was repeatedly told no.
The Papes said their son, who worked for a plumber, was a cancer survivor and as a result of treatment had developed congestive heart failure. He also had anxiety and depression and attended Alcoholics Anonymous, although he had relapsed and was drinking.
The report also said that in September 2014 police had diffused a situation in which Dylan Pape was holding a knife in the home.
In the report, Baker said he believed Pape was either emotionally disturbed or in an altered mental state. He said Pape pulled the gun from his waistband and put it back several times and his actions became even more erratic as the situation escalated.
Perrotta wrote in his statement: "Dylan continued walking toward us in a manner that was different ... He seemed more determined in his walking, like he had a plan in his head. ... I knew that if Dylan kept walking toward us with his gun in his hand we would have to shoot him or risk being killed by him. I feared for my life and the lives of the officers near me. .. I instructed Officer [Mark] Tymon to release his dog and he did."
As the police dog latched onto Pape, "he raised his right hand with the gun in it ... it was pointing in the direction of me and Officer Tymon," Perotta wrote. "I feared that Dylan would shoot me, Officer Tymon, or the SRT Operators to his left side.
Perrotta and Baker fired almost simultaneously.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill determined that Pape’s cause of death was a gunshot wound to the abdomen. He said the manner of death was suicide because Pape deliberately provoked police to shoot.
The toxicology report indicated these substances were found in Pape's system: caffeine; diphenhydramine, an antihistamine; ethanol, with a blood alcohol content of .132, above the legal limit; Fluoxetine, or Prozac, an antidepressant; Lamotrigine (for treatment of epilepsy); nicotine and norfluoxetine (a metabolite of fluoxetin).
State Police recovered Pape's gun and found that it did not contain the CO2 cartridge needed to be operable. Pape had purchased the XBG Semi Auto BB Pistol earlier that day at Walmart.
"At the time of the shooting, the actual nature of the Dylan Pape’s firearm was unknown to the officers," Sedensky wrote. "It was objectively reasonable for the officers to assume the gun was loaded and capable of firing bullets that could kill them or those around them. That the gun that Dylan Pape held was at that time a BB gun incapable of firing a bullet does not affect this determination of justifiable behavior by the officers."
Sedensky also said the death of Dylan Pape "was a tragedy and this State’s Attorney extends his condolences to the Pape family."
“On behalf of the City of Stamford, and personally, I again extend my deepest sympathies to the Pape family who will grieve the loss of Dylan forever," Mayor David Martin said. "I can offer no words to ease their pain, only prayers for their comfort and peace. We also pray our police officers are never in a position to utilize deadly force: always a last resort. The investigation concluded that the officers acted appropriately, and as per their training in this incident.”
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