Police Outline Some Details Of Sunday Shooting; Victim Identified
Christopher Benton's hostile behavior while police officers were serving a search warrant at 7:50 p.m. Sunday evening forced an officer to shoot him, according to a news release from Police Chief Jim Wetzel on Monday afternoon.
The warrant sought evidence for the distribution and trafficking of controlled substances and illegal firearm possession at Benton's house in the 1600 block of Kit Carson in south-central Casper.
"Upon entry into the residence, officers encountered an armed male presenting lethal force toward the officers," Wetzel wrote. "The actions of the male resulted in an officer firing upon the male, who subsequently succumbed to fatal gunshot wounds."
Benton, 27, had a prior criminal record.
No officers were injured, Wetzel wrote.
Casper police protocols and procedures after such an incident require the department to immediately hand over the investigation to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, Wetzel wrote.
"The Casper Police Department will additionally and concurrently conduct its own internal investigation to review and ensure officers’ conduct and actions were in accordance with Department policies and procedures," he wrote. "Officers directly involved in the shooting incident are placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation."
Placing officers directly involved in the incident does not reflect poorly on their actions, but is rather a standard procedure while the the DCI conducts its investigation, Wetzel wrote.
The news release did not identify the officers.
Wetzel commended the officers for their professionalism as he understands what he's been told so far, he wrote.
This has been hard on everyone, he added. "The nature of these incidents, with the following investigations and the inherent scrutiny over actions, can be trying for everyone involved. I ask for Casper to please be patient and keep all involved in your thoughts and prayers at this time."
District Attorney Mike Blonigen said the investigation will take time.
"The investigation will continue," Blonigen said. "There's search warrants to be done and, of course, a lot of interviews to do."
After the other agencies complete their work, they will submit a report to the district attorney's office, he said.