LANCASTER, Pa. — The Lancaster County District Attorney’s office has determined the officer-involved shooting death of a man whom it said threatened police and fired shots at the Manheim Township Police Department was justified.
Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman didn’t just tell the reasons why he made that determination, but he showed evidence of what led to his decision that the shooting was a justifiable use of force.
More than 20 minutes worth of surveillance video, taken from different cameras at multiple angles, and shown at various speeds, captures what in actuality lasted about two minutes...the shooting death of John Simson.
“I am convinced he was determined to end his life one way or the other, he was able to end his own life, we have seen obviously in other cases that they want police officers to do it, he went even further than that,” Stedman said.
May 4, 2018 - Simson was charged with sexual abuse of a child. Officials said he called investigators claiming the investigation had a negative impact on his life. It was a life that ended four days later.
“That day, he prepared a lengthy note, which the best way to characterize it would be a suicide note in which he said things to his family members and expressed that he felt that this was his choice, to end his life,” Stedman said.
May 8, 2018 - Three shots are fired outside the Manheim Township Police Department. Officials said Simson, armed with a shotgun, fired the first shot into the air. They said the second went into his own face.
Stedman added that Simson ignored commands to put down his weapon before the final and fatal shot was fired by Manheim Township Police Officer Calvin Steidler.
“They know he’s at least partially suicidal. This is unbelievably dangerous to the entire community, as well as the officers themselves. There’s no question in my mind, this was absolutely justified, in what the officer did,” Stedman said.
The surveillance video, along with interviews with witnesses and the officers involved that ultimately led Stedman to follow the facts in what he called a tragic end to Simson’s life.
“It is certainly chilling to watch this, but again, in consistency with transparency and letting people know what our police officers have to face on a daily basis, and these difficult decisions they have to make,” Stedman said.
Investigators consider the child sex abuse case now closed.