Police in Niles said the man killed in an officer-involved shooting at the Royal Mall Apartments tried to run officers over with a car.
A week after police shot and killed Matthew Burroughs at the apartment complex, Niles Police Chief Jay Holland issued a statement.
“We feel that some members of our community want to hear from their police department,” he said.
Holland talked about some of what happened on January 2 leading up to the shooting.
Police said it started at Niles Municipal Court. Burroughs, who had two warrants for his arrest, ran out of the courthouse, despite commands from the court’s probation officer, according to police.
Police said Burroughs got into his Ford and put the car in reverse, hitting the probation officer with his open car door.
The information was relayed to police. Holland said the initial responding officers were on foot at the apartment complex, looking for Burroughs before he even pulled in with another cruiser behind him.
Holland said Burroughs’ vehicle then drove toward them.
Officers fired shots at him.
“Officers state they perceived a threat to their safety and fired their service weapons,” Holland said.
Burroughs did not have a gun but police said they considered his vehicle a weapon. When asked what effect a car running over a person could have, Capt. John Marshall said, “Very likely, it would be fatal.”
Police said after the shooting, officers broke out the passenger window and tried to secure Burroughs. The car, still in gear, lurched forward, hitting parked cars.
Police said no more shots were fired.
Nearly two years ago, the Niles Police Department was certified by the Ohio Collaborative Community Police Advisory Board for its training and use of force policy.
“Our policy states if the officer reasonably observes a threat to his safety or his life, he may use deadly force to neutralize that threat to his life and safety,” Holland said.
Police said witness statements and footage from officers’ body cameras have been provided to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification, which is conducting its own independent investigation of the shooting.
“Our agency will be as transparent with all other information about this incident when BCI&I completes their investigation,” a statement from the police department reads.
Tom Conley, with the Greater Warren Youngstown Urban League, said he commends the police department for speaking out but he’s still waiting for BCI’s report.
“The bottom line is we have to wait for the BCI report to come out because that report will fill in the gaps of what has happened.”
“Our thoughts are with our officers and with everybody involved in this,” Holland said. “Nobody wanted any of this to happen but we have to react to situations we’re put in.”
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting, calling Burroughs a “victim of circumstance or color.”
Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to show that the probation officer at Niles Municipal Court was not Burroughs’ probation officer, it was the court’s probation officer.