Officer who pursued Walgreens robbery suspect thought he was armed, Maricopa County attorney says about July 2016 fatal shooting.

The Tempe police lieutenant who fatally shot a teenage robbery suspect last year during a foot pursuit will not be criminally charged, Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Wednesday.

The July 27 death of Dalvin Hollins, 19, ignited concerns from community leaders, who stressed that Lt. Edward Ouimette’s body camera was not activated at the time of the incident. Further, they noted, Hollins was shot in the back.

Hollins had been suspected of the armed robbery of a pharmacy just before the shooting, but there was no evidence he was armed.

At his Wednesday news conference, Montgomery listed the various state statutes that allow for justifiable force. According to the county attorney, Ouimette had reason to believe Hollins was armed with a gun, and that he could put the officer or others in a nearby senior-care facility in danger.

Montgomery said Hollins matched the description given of the armed robber and was fleeing from police despite multiple efforts to stop him.

“The decision to shoot, therefore, under Arizona law, is a permissible use of deadly force,” Montgomery said. “And there is no evidence to permit a conclusion that charges could be filed for a crime under Arizona law.”

Tempe police on Wednesday released a copy of their department report on the shooting, which had been submitted to Montgomery for review.

Sarah Coleman, Hollins’ mother, issued a statement through a family representative Wednesday night.

“I am deeply hurt by Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s decision. I am fearful about officers being able to continue to violate policies and procedures without consequence — to get away with murder,” the statement said.

Family members are planning to make additional comments at a news conference outside Tempe City Hall on Thursday morning.

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Robbery leads to pursuit of teen

Police were called to a Walgreens at McClintock and Guadalupe roads about 9:07 a.m. July 27 on reports of an armed robbery. Witnesses told police that a man who had donned a black ski mask had a weapon inside a black bag and demanded that pharmacists fill his bag with liquid codeine.

Video footage of the robbery shows a man jumping over a pharmacy counter and interacting with employees.

The robber demanded bottles of the drug and told the workers he would kill them, according to police records. He also told them not to call police before he climbed back over the counter and left the store.

A worker who was behind the counter called 911 seconds after the robber left the store. In the 911 call released Friday, the caller describes Hollins and tells the dispatcher that Hollins had threatened the workers with deadly force.

“He said that he had a gun but he didn’t show it to us,” the caller said. “… He literally hopped the counter and came back here. And he had it right on me.”

“We’re fine; he’s gone,” the caller said.

During this time, police said Hollins had made several calls to friends and his mother, possibly in the hopes of fleeing the area.

Nearly 20 minutes later, Ouimette, a patrol lieutenant, and another officer caught up with Hollins, who matched the description of the suspect.

Both officers pursued a shirtless Hollins, who was dressed in gray sweatpants and carried a black Jordan bag. Ouimette pursued Hollins in his marked vehicle in the hopes of slowing him down and the other officer trailed behind as the teen headed north along Rural Road, about a mile from the Walgreens.

Hollins avoided several attempts by Ouimette to block him with the vehicle and headed to the nearby Westchester Senior Living facility.

Officer: ‘I thought he was gonna kill me’

While on the senior-care facility property, Hollins ran to a parking lot and Ouimette parked his car and pursued the teen on foot, believing Hollins had a firearm.

Ouimette, who was armed with his 9mm duty firearm, pepper spray and a Taser, ran nearly parallel to Hollins when he issued a verbal command of “Police. Stop or I’m gonna shoot you.”

Ouimette said Hollins turned his head and looked at him while turning, extending his right hand out toward him with what he “thought was a gun” at him. Ouimette said that he believed Hollins was pointing at him and opened fire.

An emotional Ouimette told investigators after the shooting that he thought he would die in the encounter.

“I’m dead. I’m gonna get killed … I thought he was gonna kill me,” he said.

Court records stated the encounter placed Ouimette “in apprehension of imminent deadly physical force; therefore, he responded with deadly force by firing his duty weapon one time.”

Ouimette, in an attempt to move for cover in the parking lot, fell toward the ground after firing his weapon. He said he saw Hollins flinch but continue to flee west in the complex.

The lieutenant was unaware that he had shot the 19-year-old in the left upper back, the police report said.  

Hollins ran about 130 feet away from Ouimette toward a maintenance room where he forced himself inside, elbowing one staff member, the police report said. Two maintenance workers ran outside and warned others in the facility.

Ouimette attempted to transmit a “shots fired” call on his radio but thought it didn’t get through due to chatter, the report said, and he pressed a “906 button” to indicate he needed immediate help.

Additional police officers arrived shortly afterward to assist with the lockdown of the facility and respond to Hollins barricading himself inside the maintenance room.

The lieutenant said it never crossed his mind to activate his body-worn camera until after seeing a fellow officer activate his as he responded to the barricade situation, the report said.

About 10:30 a.m., SWAT team members opened the door to the room and found an unarmed Hollins, unresponsive. The bullet that entered in his shoulder area had lodged downward into his chest.

No weapons were found on Hollins’ body. A medical-marijuana card was inside his black bag, along with eight bottles of  codeine. A small amount of marijuana was found in a plastic bag inside his sock, records state.

According to a toxicology report, Hollins tested positive for coedeine and alprazolam, an anti-anxiety drug, police said.

Ouimette was treated for injuries he sustained on his right wrist as well as abrasions on his left arm and left knee as a result of his fall.

Ouimette, who had been with the department for 19 years at the time of the shooting, remains on industrial leave as a result of the injuries he sustained, Tempe police said.

RELATED: Maupin calls for criminal probe in teen’s killing

Tempe police change body-camera protocol

An internal review after the shooting showed Ouimette hadn’t activated his body-worn camera until after the shooting, according to a Tempe police statement Wednesday. The lack of video evidence of the encounter prompted the department to rewrite a previous rule that stated officers were to activate their cameras upon arriving at an emergency scene.

The current procedure, aimed to capture as much of an encounter as possible, stipulates that officers are to immediately activate the cameras when responding to an emergency call as opposed to when arriving at a scene. Officers should not record their entire shift, the order states.

The department stated Wednesday that all sworn officers had attended training on the appropriate activation of their body-worn cameras. The goal was to reduce inadvertent non-activation of the device under stress “and therefore aid our officers and ultimately the community,” the statement said.

Ouimette told investigators after the shooting that training for the camera did not prepare him on how to use it under stress, according to the police report. Ouimette was issued the camera in December 2015 and reportedly only had activated it once, the report stated.

“If you’re not out there turning it on every day when you’re making contact, you just don’t think about it,” he said.

In the wake of Hollins’ death, Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir promised a “sound, unbiased factual investigation” into the shooting.

Tempe police said Wednesday they were appreciative of the county attorney’s diligence and thorough independent review of the shooting.

“This legal finding does not alleviate the suffering of the Hollins’ family, nor does it ease the fear and range of emotions of those who were at the Walgreens, the elderly care center, and those of Lt. Ouimette, who is still on industrial leave as a result of the injuries he sustained during this incident,” Tempe police said in a statement Wednesday.

The statement noted that the department would limit its comments on the case in light of pending litigation.

“However, we remain steadfast in our resolve to be transparent, and our thoughts are with everyone who was impacted by this event,” the statement said.

RELATED: Robbery suspect shot by Tempe police ID’ed

Maricopa County police shootings in 2016

The map below shows each police shooting in Maricopa County to date. Each colored dot represents one shooting. The dots are color-coded based on the department involved. Click on a dot to reveal information about the event. The shootings are highlighted in chronological order, with the dots outlined as the months progress.

Hollins 1 of 3 killed by police in 24-hour period

Hollins was the first of three men shot by law-enforcement officers in the span of 24 hours on July 27. That afternoon, a Scottsdale police officer shot and killed 24-year-old Dylan Liberti, who police said wielded a knife at officers. Later that evening, Gila River officers opened fire at an SUV driver who attempted to flee a drug investigation.

A friend said Hollins likely was attempting to acquire ingredients to make “Lean,” a party drink where codeine is mixed with Sprite and Jolly Rancher candy. According to court records, one witness told police Hollins had once feigned an illness to acquire the drug from a medical facility.

Hollins’ stepfather, Frederick Franklin, told The Arizona Republic on the day of the shooting that the teen likely suffered from mental illness and didn’t know how to act in a stressful situation. Franklin said Hollins likely decided to run without thinking he was going to be shot.

A series of protests attended by local activists and Hollins’ family ensued, with participants demanding a criminal probe.

One demonstration along Tempe’s Mill Avenue Bridge, called the “Moral Monday” protest, resulted in the arrest of Hollins’ biological father, an organizer and an attendee who disobeyed police commands to remain on the sidewalk.

In 2016, 45 police shootings were reported in Maricopa County; 27 were fatal. Research conducted by The Arizona Republic shows officers fired their weapons once every eight days last year and were twice as likely to shoot if there was a similar confrontation in the same period of time.

Former Mesa police Officer Philip “Mitch” Brailsford has been the only law-enforcement agent charged with murder in connection with a 2016 police shooting. Brailsford, charged with second-degree murder, was fired from the department in the wake of the January 2016 death of Texas resident Daniel Shaver at a hotel.


When is a police shooting most likely to happen?

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