Prosecutor: 4 officers justified in killing parole absconder

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo County prosecutor has ruled that four police officers were justified in shooting a parole absconder 13 times last year, killing him.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said Deputy U.S. Marshal Tony Casper, then-Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Kevin Conklin (now the Van Buren County undersheriff), Michigan Department of Corrections Investigator Thomas Johnson and Battle Creek Police Department Officer Andrew Horn had reason to believe that Thomas Verile Jr. was a threat to their lives.

“As a result, no charges will be filed by this office against any of them,” Getting continued at a Friday afternoon press conference.

In the spring of 2019, Verile was wanted for violating parole following breaking and entering and weapons convictions, and had outstanding warrants for failing to appear in court. Getting said Friday he was also wanted for questioning as a suspect in thefts of tools, cars and guns.

“In the end, these cases come back to the same place, which is reviewing it and looking at it from the perspective of that reasonable police officer in that scene and whether or not the actions that these officers took were reasonable under the circumstances,” Getting said.

Getting says officers tried to arrest Verile April 2, 2019, but he nearly hit investigators with his car and then ran away.

The MSP Fugitive Team ultimately found Verile on April 4 at the Kalamazoo home where he had been staying, where he was hiding on a shelf under clothes in a small basement utility room.

Getting said that when the officers found him, he refused to obey commands to show his hands and shouted that he had a gun and he would kill them and himself.

The officers stated that Verile made a sudden move forward, his hands still covered.

“It’s when he then goes to further sit up that he moves his arms in a way, his hands in a way that appear to the officers that he is pointing a firearm at them and they then shoot in self-defense,” Getting said.

Verile was not actually armed, but the prosecutor said officers had reason to believe he was and that he was a danger to them.

All four officers opened fire. Of the 17 rounds shot, 13 hit Verile in his chin, neck, shoulder, torso, arm, abdomen and leg. Authorities provided first aid, but Verile was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Getting said the members of the MSP Fugitive Team do not wear bodycams, so there was no video of the shooting. The prosecutor relied on officers’ statements and other evidence, including recordings of radio traffic that night captured on other officers’ bodycams, in reaching his decision.