No charges will be filed against three Tahlequah police officers involved in the August fatal shooting of an intoxicated man, the District 27 District Attorney's Office announced Wednesday evening.
Dominic Rollice, 49, was shot four times inside a garage on East Shawnee Terrace. The state medical examiner said two bullets struck Rollice in the chest and two others struck his left hand.
Rollice was shot by Tahlequah Police Lt. Brandon Vick and Officer Josh Girdner, while Officer Chase Reed fired a Taser simultaneously. Rollice, according to body camera video, had retreated into a garage and wielded a claw hammer above his head before the shots were fired Aug. 12.
First Assistant District Attorney Jack Thorp on Wednesday declined to file charges against the officers, and instead declared their actions were "justified" by state law.
"... It is my belief that Officers Vick, Girdner and Reed acted justifiably in the death of Dominic Rollice," Thorp said in a letter addressed to Special Agent Dale Fine of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. "I believe the evidence shows that at the time Mr. Rollice turned the claw forward on the hammer, and attempted to throw or swing the hammer, that the officers reasonably believed that they were in danger of death or serious physical injury and were defending themselves from a forcible felony, consistent with their rights under Oklahoma law."
Thorp suggested the methamphetamine and alcohol found in Rollice's system "likely led to the erratic and dangerous behavior" shown by Rollice during his confrontation with officers. Thorp said medical personnel who were treating Rollice after the shooting also found him to be in possession of a substance that tested positive as meth.
According to Thorp, the shooting occurred after Rollice's ex-wife, Joy Rollice, called police to report her former husband was intoxicated and refusing to leave her home. She also purportedly told officers Rollice was not allowed at the residence due to his status as a registered sex offender – a statement Thorp said was later verified.
After Tahlequah officers arrived, they found Rollice inside a garage and allegedly tried to calm him. But Rollice retrieved a claw hammer and "brandished it in a menacing manner toward the police," Thorp said.
Video of the incident shows Rollice was told numerous times to drop the hammer but refused, and instead appeared to grow more agitated with officers when Reed holstered his firearm and retrieved a Taser.
Officers involved also claim Rollice told them "one of us is going to f---ing die tonight," though that statement was allegedly uttered before audio on the body camera that filmed the encounter had kicked on.
"It is apparent from the video that the situation was tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving," Thorp said.
Reed began CPR on Rollice while an ambulance responded to the scene, but he was later pronounced dead.
The three officers were initially placed on leave while the OSBI investigated, but King decided to place them back on duty after completion of the OSBI's report.