Potter County DA: Police Justified in Shooting

Potter County DA Watson says police were justified in the shooting death of Joshua Wheeler

COUDERSPORT – Andy J. Watson, the District Attorney for Potter County, has said he will not prosecute the Special Emergency Response Team member who shot and killed Joshua C. Wheeler on March 7.

Watson said force is necessary when an officer is protecting himself or the public, or when an officer believes it is necessary to make an arrest.

The incident began at 9:45 am On March 7, 2010 when 911 dispatchers received a call reporting that Josh Wheeler was “drunk, acting crazy and carrying what was believed to be an AK-47 assault rifle.”

A standoff ensued after police responded to the residence. Wheeler allegedly was in possession of a MAC-90 assault rifle. According to police he fired some 84 random rounds at police officers and their vehicles from within his home before being fatally shot by the SERT member at 3:13 pm.

Watson says the SERT member was justified in shooting Wheeler under state law.

Officials also say that multiple attempts were made by police, family and friends to resolve the situation peacefully, but some residents of Harrison Valley and Wheeler’s family disagree. They say police escalated the situation and did not allow family members to speak to Wheeler, who was “having a really difficult time, and just wanted to talk to his Uncle.”

Even though the DA has declined to prosecute the officer, the family could still file a civil lawsuit.

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