Police Justified in Shooting 68-Year-Old Woman: DA

A local officer was justified in shooting a 68-year-old northwestern Pennsylvania woman who swung a knife at him at her home in July, state police and the district attorney announced Tuesday.

In a report, troopers from the Franklin barracks detailed the encounter in which Marilyn Elizabeth Peterson was killed by an unnamed officer in Oil City, about 70 miles north of Pittsburgh.
The state police said Venango County District Attorney Marie Veon reviewed their findings and determined the officer shouldn't be prosecuted and used "justifiable force to prevent serious bodily injury or death to himself or others."

The shooting happened about 9 p.m. July 16 after police were called to the residence where Peterson was allegedly acting irrationally and threatening other family members, including children, the report said. State police determined Peterson was threatening to kill herself and the officers with a large kitchen knife when they arrived.

The first officer to arrive cornered Peterson in her bedroom, but in the process knocked some sort of wooden barrier across the bottom of the doorway into the room.
Police say Peterson wouldn't drop the knife even after police struck her hand with an unspecified "impact tool," which would include items such as blackjacks or batons. Peterson also didn't stop, and simply shielded her eyes, when officers used pepper spray, police said.
Peterson kept advancing and the officers were backed up against the wooden barrier and couldn't retreat as Peterson got within 2 feet of them.
"The officers were also becoming affected by the previously discharged pepper spray into the enclosed area, which was ventilated with an inward facing window/box-type fan," the report said.
An officer fired one shot, hitting Peterson in the upper chest. She died at a hospital less than two hours later.
The Oil City police have yet to identify the three officers involved, and the department's chief didn't immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.
Department officials said at the time of the shooting that all three officers were given desk duty during the investigation; it wasn't immediately clear if that had changed before or because of the state police findings.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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