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Fort Wayne Police officer cleared in February shooting death of robbery suspect

Friday, March 8, 2013 - 12:12 pm

An officer with the Fort Wayne Police Department will not face charges in the shooting death of a man suspected in the robbery of a pharmacy who then reportedly pointed a weapon at pursuing officers.

According to a news release issued Friday by the Allen County Prosecutor's Office, the officer - identified shortly after the shooting by the police department as Officer Jeffery E. Burkholder Sr. - was justified in using deadly force against Stephen O'Neal Wattley II.

Wattley, 21, was shot and killed Feb. 20 after police reported he ran into an apartment building and turned toward officers with a semi-automatic rifle.

Police officers were dispatched at around 2:27 a.m. to the CVS pharmacy at 2802 E. State Blvd. in reference to an armed robbery investigation, according to information released previously by the police department. Arriving officers saw an individual matching the description of the suspect who was running southbound from the business.

Burkholder and another officer pursued the person into an apartment building in the 1900 block of Hobson Road. The person, Wattley, reportedly turned toward officers with the weapon, and Burkholder shot him.

Burkholder has been on the police force since since September 1981, according to the department. Released personnel records indicate four vehicle accidents and two incidents of absent without leave for Burkholder, but no instances relating to the firing of his weapon.

Burkholder received a Meritorious Service Citation in 1990, according to the personnel record.