The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

April 3, 2013

District attorney: EPD officer’s use of lethal force justified

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — An Enid Police Department officer who shot and killed an armed man March 23 will not be criminally charged, District Attorney Mike Fields said.

“There is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Enid Police Officer Jacob McKinley in the shooting death of Jimmie Wayne Birchfield,” Fields said. “No action by this office is warranted.”

Birchfield, 36, was shot and killed after officers responded to a 911 call at the house, 1301 N. Central, where he was staying with his mother.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation was called to the scene to investigate, which is a standard procedure per EPD policy. McKinley was placed on administration leave, also standard procedure per EPD policy.

“Mr. Birchfield’s actions posed an imminent danger of death or great bodily injury to the officers involved, including Officer McKinley,” Fields said. “Therefore, Officer McKinley’s use of lethal force under these circumstances was justified under the law.”

The district attorney said the investigation found there was an alleged dispute between Birchfield and his 74-year-old mother, in which Birchfield threatened to shoot her, her dogs and to kill himself. The woman then called 911.

Birchfield’s mother reported her son loaded several rifles and a shotgun in his room and threatened to kill any police officer who came to the house.

When officers arrived at the house in response to the 911 call, Birchfield’s mother came out and told them Birchfield was inside holding a gun, Fields said. Shortly thereafter, the officers saw Birchfield in the front doorway, where he pointed a chamber-loaded shotgun out of the house directly at two officers, and refused to obey the officers’ commands to drop the gun. He then turned the gun and pointed it directly at a third officer, McKinley, who shot him once in the chest, killing him.

During a subsequent search of the house, officers found several loaded rifles on a bed in Birchfield’s room. Birchfield is a convicted felon and illegally possessed all of the guns, Fields said.

EPD Chief Brian O’Rourke said his officer was in a situation no police officer wants to be in, when he was confronted by an armed suspect.

“McKinley reacted to that confrontation with the appropriate level of force, which was an imminent threat of a loaded shotgun pointed at him and other officers at the scene,” he said. “McKinley took proper action. This individual chose to escalate the situation.”

McKinley has been with the department since September 2008, and is a member of the Patrol Division and SWAT team.

He also was named Officer of the Month for February 2009 by the Brigg Evening Lions Club.

“The officers out at the scene, they acted professionally responding to the call and throughout the incident. They rendered aid to the suspect and continued rendering aid until the EMTs arrived,” O’Rourke said. “Officer McKinley has the full support of the police department and will be welcomed back to work in his clearance of this matter.

“I would thank the OSBI for their responsiveness and thoroughness in their investigation, and District Attorney Mike Fields for his conclusive action in this matter.”