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Man shot dead in State College brandished knife, confronted police, according to court document

Centre County DA assures ‘complete, independent investigation’ for officer-involved shooting

Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna provides updates on the March 20, 2019 shooting in State College. He said there will be a "thorough and complete, independent investigation" into Osaze Osagie's death.
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Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna provides updates on the March 20, 2019 shooting in State College. He said there will be a "thorough and complete, independent investigation" into Osaze Osagie's death.

The State College man shot and killed by a borough police officer Wednesday had confronted police and brandished a knife just before the fatal shooting, according to state police at Rockview.

Osaze Osagie, 29, didn’t obey several verbal commands to drop the knife and instead “came after the (borough) officers” who were at his residence to serve a mental health warrant, state police said in an affidavit obtained Thursday by the Centre Daily Times.

That aggression led one of the officers to fire his gun, state police said. Four spent 9 mm casings, a stun gun and a bullet fragment are among the items seized from the Old Boalsburg Road apartment where the confrontation happened, according to the affidavit.

A state police investigation into the incident is ongoing.

“I want to assure the public that there will be a thorough and complete, independent investigation into this matter,” Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna said during a press conference Thursday. “The matter will be investigated no different than any other death case that’s occurred in Centre County.”

Cantorna called the case a priority for his office and for state police. He did not give a timeline for the investigation’s conclusion, instead saying the review will be done as efficiently and effectively as possible.

“We want to make sure that we’re transparent and complete to the public so they can evaluate what occurred here,” Cantorna said. “We can’t have trust in our system unless there is that transparency.”

Once the investigation is done and reviewed, the DA’s office will determine if “the use of force was appropriate,” he said.

The affidavit is part of a search warrant and authorization that state police filed with District Judge Allen Sinclair after the shooting inside the Marvin Gardens apartment complex. State police wanted to seize the knife, Osagie’s medication and his cell phone, among other materials, according to the filing.

Ekaterina Yakhnina, a resident of the complex, said she was home during the shooting. She heard “four or five gunshots” in quick succession, she said.

That seemed excessive if Osagie was armed only with the knife, Yakhnina said. He lived in a basement apartment and was very polite to her when they met once in a laundry room, she said.

Borough police had gone to the apartment about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday after Osagie’s father reported him missing, state police said in the affidavit. The father said his son was “acting erratically for a couple of weeks, similar to when he is off his medication,” according to the document.

Text messages from Osagie showed he had been threatening to harm himself and others, so authorities issued the mental health warrant as he was entered into a database of missing and endangered people, state police said in the filing.

Borough officers involved in the shooting incident have been placed on administrative leave — in line with borough policy — pending the outcome of the investigation, State College police Chief John Gardner has said. Their names have not been released.

Gardner has described Osagie as an African-American.

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