An investigation into the officer-involved fatal shooting of Deanne Choate, Gardner, continues. According to a press release from Olathe Police Sgt. Bryan Hill, however, evidence suggests that Choate failed to follow officers’ verbal commands about a handgun and officers fired their weapons striking her,
In this investigation, Hill serves as spokesperson for the Officer-Involved Shooting Investigation Team (OISIT), a multi-jurisdictional group of investigators from area law enforcement agencies.
Four Gardner police officers remain on administrative leave.
Gardner Police Chief James Pruetting told members of the Gardner City Council that it isn’t appropriate for him to comment on the officer-involved shooting.
Several years ago, he said former Police Chief Kenny Francis signed a memorandum of understanding with other area departments to create the multi-jurisdictional officer involved shooting team. Pruetting said the OISIT has been conducting a timely and thorough investigation, though the OISIT prevents him from standing in front of television cameras and representing the community and its officers.
“I would rather be the face of our organization, but it’s just not feasible in this type of process,” Pruetting said. “We just don’t have the capacity to do that.”
The Johnson County Crime Lab has completed scene processing at a home in the 400 block of North Birch Street and has released the residence back to the homeowner.
Hill said the OISIT is tasked with investigating officer-involved shootings to keep the home agency – in this case, the Gardner Police Department – out of the investigative process. Once the team has completed its investigation, the case will be forwarded to the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office for review.
Hill said there isn’t a deadline to complete the investigation.
“I think (investigators are) trying to wrap things up this week,” Hill said. “They haven’t given me a specific timeline… Investigators can take as much time as they need.”
Pruetting told city council members on April 6 that he was very impressed with the way the OISIT is handling the investigation. The district attorney was also on the scene following the shooting.
“I thought everything was handled in a very professional manner,” Pruetting said. “The officers were treated in a very professional manner.”
Gardner police officers responded to a call in the 400 block of North Birch Street on March 26. Choate’s boyfriend had said she fired a shot inside the house.
When officers arrived, Choate, 53, was shot and killed.
It is routine for officers to be placed on administrative leave following an officer-involved shooting.
There will be a celebration of life ceremony for Choate at 2 p.m. on April 8 at First Lutheran Church, 401 E. Piankishaw St., Paola.
Evidence suggests woman did not follow officer instructions, spokesman says