Officer-Involved Shooting: Lancaster County DA Reviews Fatal Incident Involving 17-Year-Old Juvenile

Lancaster County District Attorney

LANCASTER, PA — The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office announced they have reviewed the August 6, 2023, officer-involved shooting in the City of Lancaster where a 17-year-old juvenile was fatally shot by officers responding to a burglary in progress call.

Darron Shaw succumbed to his injuries at an area hospital after fleeing the scene of an officer-involved shooting involving two Lancaster City police officers in the first block of West New Street.  Shaw exited the house with a loaded semi-automatic ghost gun pointed directly at the officers and failed to follow verbal commands.

Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams reviews all police-involved shootings in the county, which are investigated by Lancaster County Detectives, and decides whether the use of force was justified under the law.

District Attorney Adams has concluded that both officers were legally justified when they deployed their firearms at Shaw as he exited the West New Street house and pointed a firearm directly at the officers who were between 15 and 20 feet away with no cover.

The two responding officers fired at Shaw who was struck four to five times and then continued to flee the area, climbing over a fence, and traveling approximately 102 feet before collapsing.  Other responding officers performed life-saving measures on Shaw.  Shaw was taken to an area hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

This incident began when a resident of the New Street address was alerted by a home video security system to someone entering her home.  The resident called her 14-year-old son, who was home alone, and told him to go out onto the roof to wait for police to arrive.  The resident then called 911 and reported that someone that appeared to be a masked juvenile entered her home.

A review of the home security camera shows the suspect repositioning the outside, wall-mounted camera toward the ground before entering the home.  The camera is later found on the ground outside the doorway.  The suspect is then recorded on a camera in the kitchen crouching down and moving through the kitchen area.

Police were dispatched to the West New Street residence for a burglary in progress at approximately 12:10 a.m.

The body-worn camera footage from the responding officers assisted the District Attorney’s Office in this investigation. That footage shows

  • Two responding officers, Officers 1 and 2, approach the rear of the residence and walk past the door where the suspect eventually exits.  The officers observe a broken window in the interior open door, which is partially ajar.
  • One officer speaks to the juvenile on the roof and is told the suspect is still inside. Both officers take a position in the rear of the yard to the left of the doorway.
  • Almost immediately after getting into their positions, the suspect appears at the rear door, opens the outside door, and points what was later determined to be a loaded, semi-automatic 9mm ghost gun with extended magazine in the direction of a third officer who was between the houses to the right of the door, and then directly at the officers who are on the left of the door.
  • A third arriving officer stops at the end of a narrow breezeway to the right of the door just prior to the suspect appearing at the rear door.  This officer’s camera also shows the suspect open the door, holding the firearm in his right hand.  The firearm is pointing in the direction of Officer 3, who immediately begins to retreat. The video also depicts the suspect turning the gun toward the direction of the other officers.
  • Officer 1 immediately shouts “Hands! Hands!” to which the suspect did not respond.  Both Officers 1 and 2 fire at the suspect and he flees alongside of the house still in possession of the firearm.

Officers 1 and 2 were interviewed by Lancaster County Detectives and both described seeing the gun as soon as the suspect exited the door.  Both officers recognized that their life was in imminent danger and fired after the suspect failed to comply with the verbal commands given.

The Officers fire a total of nine rounds, six shots from a handgun and three shots from a rifle.  Shaw then jumped over a fence in the back yard and continued to flee, traveling approximately 102 feet until he collapsed.  Officers 1 and 2 do not chase the subject but remain in the backyard covering the rear door in the event there are additional suspects in the house.  After it is determined to be safe to do so, other responding officers cautiously approach Shaw and begin to render aid.  Officers then carried Shaw to an arriving ambulance.  The gun and extended magazine were recovered on the interior side of the fence that Shaw jumped over.

According to the autopsy, Shaw was hit in his left front abdominal area, left hand, left lower thigh, right foot, and the back of his right knee.  The Lancaster County Coroner has indicated that Shaw died from multiple gunshot wounds.

There is no question that Shaw  presented an immediate threat to the officers’ lives when he pointed a loaded gun directly at them and that the officers acted in fear of their own life which is justified under the law.

“Officers responded to a burglary in progress call and were confronted by an armed suspect pointing a gun directly at them, and in a split-second, they perceived the gun, recognized the deadly threat and responded to it – only after the suspect failed to comply with verbal commands,” District Attorney Adams said.  “It is beyond question that the officers’ beliefs that lethal force was necessary to defend themselves and each other was objectively reasonable and therefore, the use of force was justified under the law.”

The Lancaster County District Attorney’s Office has shared our condolences with the family.  This is a difficult time for them as they have experienced a life-altering event and try to understand the actions of their own family member and that of the police.

The name of the officers will not be released as no criminal charges will be filed.

The body camera video, which shows the officers arriving, taking position, encountering the subject and firing, was posted on CrimeWatch, Facebook, X – formerly Twitter, and YouTube. Click here to watch the video.

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