WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A Wichita police officer who was involved in an officer-involved shooting that killed a man in Dec. 2020 is immune from prosecution, District Attorney Marc Bennett said in a news conference on Friday.
The announcement stems from a shooting that happened on Dec. 30, 2020. Police said 37-year-old Jason Williams shot and killed his mother in law, and was holding his estranged wife, who he had shot in the shoulder, and two children inside the house in Riverside.
According to a news release that accompanied the news conference, Williams told negotiators with the Wichita Police Department (WPD) that he was going to let his children and wife out the back door, but he was not planning on leaving the building alive.
The news release contained the officer’s description of what happened. They said they were positioned to see the sliding glass door Williams intended to release the wife and children from.
The officer said they saw the sliding glass door open and the two children leave the home, but before the wife could leave, they saw Williams behind her holding her waist and believed Williams “was not letting her go.”
The officer believed Williams was taking her back inside the home to kill her, and was also worried the mother-in-law was inside the house “bleeding to death and that they needed to get to her.”
The officer fired one shot, killing Williams. EMS transported the wife to a local hospital. The children were not physically harmed.
Bennett said during the news conference he did not know if Williams was actually holding a firearm when he was shot, but his decision would have remained the same.
“Whether he had a gun in his hands in that very moment, or he had set it at his feet as he was letting the kids out, I don’t know,” Bennett said. “But it would not change my assessment of the volatility of the situation or the officers decision.”
Bennett said on Friday the case has come back up again because the officer who shot Williams was involved in an investigation regarding a group text of law enforcement officers sharing inappropriate texts.
According to the news release, the Wichita Police Department conducted an investigation for the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department regarding an allegation of stalking/domestic violence against (then) Deputy Maxfield. It went on to say that investigators had obtained access to Maxfield’s cell phone in order to search for evidence.
“Sometime after Officer 2 was involved in the shooting death of Mr. Williams, (then) Deputy Maxfield texted Officer 2 that he (Officer 2) was an “ultimate de-escalator.” Officer 2 responded with a “love” response to the message and then texted back, “Good stuff, Max. Thank you,” the release said.
Bennett said in the release that while the texts may be unprofessional, “It does not however, change the clear facts of this case,” and said the officer is immune from prosecution under Kansas law.