York DA: Deputy justified in use of deadly force in James Nickol shooting

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YORK, Pa. — The York County District Attorney says a sheriff’s deputy was justified in using deadly force in a June shooting incident that left the suspect dead and the deputy shot in the face. On the morning of June 9th, York City Police and York County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived at 974 East Philadelphia Street in York City to arrest a wanted man, James Nickol.

Nickol was wanted for escaping York County Prison, where he was serving time for a burglary conviction. He was in the work release program and walked out of his job on June 5th. His mother said he had walked away because he was upset over a phone conversation he had with his girlfriend, Kristina Kennedy, in which she told him she was ending the relationship and was seeing someone else. Kennedy says Nickol told her, “his blood was on her hands,” he would always love her. The night he walked off his job, he contacted her on Facebook, and again stated his blood was on her hands. He also sent her a picture of a gun in his mouth. Kennedy says she woke up the next day with Nickol standing in her bedroom. She managed to get him to leave, but he left a note on her car. The next morning, she was at her new boyfriend’s residence and Nickol was calling her, demanding she return to her home. Kennedy called police. She also related that he was taking medications, Fentanyl, Oxycodone, Fioricet (for migraine headaches) and Selma (a muscle relaxer), he got from his mother. Nickol’s mother confirmed this in interviews.

Police and Sheriff’s Deputies arrived around 8:17am and went to the rear of the property, via a breezeway. When they saw Nickol, they were in close proximity, about 3 feet apart. One Deputy, Michael Lutz, commanded Nickol to show his hands. Nickol appeared to reach for something, and Lutz again demanded he show his hands. Lutz grabbed Nickol and tried to get him to the ground and cuff him. But Nickol fired and shot Lutz in the face. Lutz returned fire, hitting Nickol twice. Nickol fired again, hitting Lutz in the thumb as he reached for Nickol’s gun. At that point, Lutz backed away and fired several more times before the suspect fell to the ground and the deputy stopped shooting.

The District Attorney says Lutz’ response was reasonable under the circumstances, having been shot in the face and Nickol’s continuing to fire even after being hit.

The cause of Nickol’s death is gunshot wounds and the manner of death is determined to be justifiable homicide.

The matter is now closed.