No charges will be filed against the officer involved in last month's fatal shooting at the Lake Hallie Walmart.
In paperwork filed Thursday by Chippewa County District Attorney Steve Gibbs, he said he believes Officer Adam Meyers of the Lake Hallie Police Department acted in self defense and believed his life was in danger when fatally shot Melissa Abbott of Black River Falls. The decision comes after a more than month-long investigation done by the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department. Gibbs went on to say the shooting was a tragic incident for Officers Meyers and all of the Chippewa County Law Enforcement Community.
The shooting happened on April 8. Lake Hallie Police were dispatched to the Lake Hallie Walmart for a female subject who was being disorderly and officers were told over the radio that she could be violent. While the officers were en route it was dispatched to officers that she armed herself with some sort of knife and was walking toward the front of the store.
According to reports from the time of the incident, the first officer, Meyers, made contact with Abbott near the Garden Center. Witnesses confirmed that Meyers gave the subject numerous verbal commands but the female did not follow those commands. When the woman lunged at him, Meyers shot the subject twice. Abbott died later that night.
New details about the April 8 shooting were also revealed in the document, including more background on Abbott, who had traveled from the Northern Wisconsin Center, a home for the developmentally disabled. According to the report, Abbott had written in her journal she wanted to have a shootout with the police. The report quotes her journal as saying: "Better yet, I want to do a shoot out with the Chippewa Police Department and see who wins, which they will my luck I will end up dead.. then my family will get a phone call that I am dead, which I wouldn't care because I would be out of this place..."
The report also details Officer Meyer's interview with investigators. He said he yelled at Abbott to drop the hatchet she was carrying repeatedly before she began walking towards him, swinging the hatchet in 'figure 8' motions. At one point, Meyers said he had to back up because Abbott was getting too close. Meyers said he was worried Abbott could kill him if she hit him with the hatchet because the vest he wore was not stab resistant. Meyers told investigators he felt he had exhausted all of his options and his only choice left was to fire his firearm to stop the threat, to stop her.
Surveillance video captured much of the incident. The report says Walmart cameras show Abbott walking towards Officer Meyers, swinging the hatchet above her head. The video then shows Abbott dropping to the floor.
According to the DA's report, there was overwhelming evidence supporting a finding of justifiable self defense and the use of deadly force by Officer Adam Meyers. They are listed in the report as follows:
1. During the time of the incident, there were numerous people in the area where the incident took place, some as close as fifteen feet.
2. At least two of the witnesses reported that Ms. Abbott went after two people (Ms. Vadnais and Ms. Potocnik) with the hatchet.
3. At least two of the witnesses reported that Ms. Abbott was chopping and stabbing the bags of fertilizer or dog food with the hatchet in a violent manner.
4. All of the witnesses reported that Ms. Abbott did not comply with Officer Meyers' directions to "drop it".
5. At least five people reported Ms. Abbott making a chopping or throwing motion at Officer Meyers as she walked towards Officer Meyers.
6. At least ten witnesses heard Officer Meyers yell two to three times to drop the weapon prior to Officer Meyers shooting.
7. At least ten witnesses heard or reported Officer Meyers shoot twice.
8. One witness felt that Officer Meyers had no choice but to use deadly force to protect himself and the public.
9. Ms. Abbott had a history of violence and not following orders.
Read the full report from the DA's office here.