Police have been cleared of criminal charges from shooting an armed man outside an Illinois casino. That is the ruling of Winnebago County State’s Attorney J. Hanley in a 10-page report released Thursday.
Hanley concluded the use of deadly force by three officers, “was justified and thus, no criminal charges will be filed in this case.” He came to that decision after reviewing the results of an investigation by the Winnebago Boone Integrity Task Force.
The investigation was launched after Bradley J. Thompkins, 51, was shot multiple times by police and later died of his injuries.
Illinois casino in Rockford was the site of the shooting
The incident happened on May 28, 2022 at the Hard Rock Rockford Casino. Video evidence from inside the casino shows Thompkins spent nearly four hours gambling and drinking heavily before he was cut off from purchasing alcohol.
Casino security subsequently banned Thompkins from the gambling facility for 24 hours. Before leaving, Thompkins told security that if police followed him he would “shoot them all.”
Thompkins left, but returned about 20 minutes later. He was stopped by police. Thompkins exited his vehicle holding a black handgun to his head. He later asked officers three times to shoot him. During the interaction with officers, Thompkins took the gun from his head, pointed it at the sky and fired one round.
Officers continued to try to de-escalate the situation. Yet, at one point, Thompkins appeared to become emotional. He then stood up, took the fun away from his head and pointed it at the officers to his left.
At that point, sheriff’s deputy Giorgi Arbisi fired his gun 10 times. Rockford police officer Jordan Black fired one round from his rifle and officer Dion Embry fired six times. All three officers reported that they feared for their own safety and the safety of the public.
Thompkins was shot in the midsection three times. A little more than a month later, on June 30, he died in hospital from his injuries.
The Winnebago County Sheriff released the a video of the incident taken from police body cameras (Warning: Some users may find the content of the video disturbing).
Why the use of deadly force was acceptable in this case
“A criminal prosecution for either first or second degree murder would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers were not legally justified in using deadly force against Thompkins.”
Further, he wrote that Deputy Arbisi, Officer Black and Officer Embry were reasonable to conclude that shooting Thompkins was necessary because:
- Thompkins was wielding a gun
- Despite multiple commands to drop his gun, Thompkins failed to do so.
- Thompkins continued to move towards Deputy Arbisi after being told to back up.
- Officers and civilians were in close proximity.
- Thompkins fired one round into the air, demonstrating the willingness and ability to fire his gun.
- Thompkins then pointed his gun at the officers to his east.
“Based upon the totality of the circumstances, Deputy Arbisi, Officer Black and Officer Embrey’s belief that shooting Thompkins was necessary to protect themselves and others from great bodily harm was reasonable,” Haney wrote.