Interim chief on officer-involved deadly shooting: "They did what they had to do"

(Source: Amanda Pollack)
(Source: Amanda Pollack)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The interim chief of the Columbia Police Department says officers did what they had to do in the deadly shooting of an armed man Saturday night.

The three officers are on administrative leave with pay while the shooting is investigated by SLED.

Investigators say the officers felt in fear of their lives when they shot a man who had returned to his mother's North Columbia home with a weapon following fight with her.

According to police department spokesperson Jennifer Timmons, the incident happened in the 5800 block of Conveyor Street near Farrow Road at about 8 p.m. Saturday.

Timmons says a woman called police after she and her son, 21-year-old Ajani Mitchell, had a fight at the residence Saturday afternoon. After Mitchell left, his mother called police to pick up an assault rifle she had found in the home.

The woman called authorities later in the evening to report that Mitchell had returned with another weapon, according to Timmons.

When police arrived, they discovered Mitchell behind the home. Police say Mitchell ignored repeated commands to drop the weapon and did not obey.

"The officers were in fear for their lives," said Acting Police Chief Ruben Santiago. "This individual had a gun."

Mitchell died on the scene. An autopsy was performed Sunday.

No officers were injured.

"Our officers are not out here to try to get hurt," said Santiago. "Their job is to run towards a threat and to protect other individuals."

"Our officers have to be prepared to defend themselves, but more, to defend the public and that's what happened tonight," said Santiago.

"We want them to be trained specifically to handle these situations and that's what happened here. These officers were faced with a threat and they did what they had to do," he said. "That's what's going to make them go home tonight and be with their families."

The investigation has been turned over to SLED.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.