Prosecutor Declares Justification for Branson Police in February Shooting Death

U. S — In the February shooting death of Randall J. Wesolek, which was investigated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol and reviewed by the Taney County Prosecutor, it was determined that three officers from the Branson Police Department were within their rights to use deadly force.

At a press conference held on Friday, the Branson Police Department shared footage from officers’ body cameras and answered questions concerning the deadly incident that took place the previous day at the Express Gas Station on West 76 Country Boulevard. This was the first time that Branson officers had shot and killed someone since 2006.

Wesolek, 43, was sought for several felony warrants when Branson police approached the man after being warned that Wesolek was in the vicinity. The man was sitting inside his vehicle in front of the gas station with his dog on his lap at 10 p.m. when Branson police approached the man. Wesolek was wanted for many charges.

When the cops first interacted with Wesolek, they gave off the impression that they were friendly with him before running his identification to confirm it. Wesolek disobeyed the police’ orders when they returned to the car he was in to inform him that he was being placed under arrest for the warrants he had.

Wesolek maintained, “I didn’t do anything,” throughout the conversation. Wesolek was still seated in his vehicle when the fight that followed lasted for five seconds before an officer yelled “Don’t reach!” at him. Wesolek’s right hand, which is partly concealed by the dog in his lap in the video, was believed to be going towards the centre console when the officer yelled “Gun!” All three cops then fired their weapons, ultimately resulting in the man’s death.

After being shot, Wesolek slumped out of his automobile into the street, and the video captured the moment that his hand dropped a revolver. A law enforcement officer took possession of the firearm and demonstrated that it was loaded with a round in the chamber. Before fleeing the scene, Wesolek’s dog, which was described as being of “a grey and white pitbull-type breed,” showed signs of having been harmed. It was never located again.

According to Eric Schmitt, the chief of police for the city of Branson, the investigation into this case took nearly six months to complete because of the passing of longtime Taney County prosecutor William Duston, who passed away in May from cancer. Brad Hughes, the newly appointed prosecutor, arrived at the conclusion that the officers’ actions were appropriate.


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