State College

Investigation into fatal police-involved shooting in State College nears conclusion

Mental health warrant led to officer-involved shooting, police say

State College police Chief John Gardner informs the public about the officer-involved shooting that occurred on March 20, 2019 at Marvin Gardens Apartments.
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State College police Chief John Gardner informs the public about the officer-involved shooting that occurred on March 20, 2019 at Marvin Gardens Apartments.

Following a monthlong investigation, District Attorney Bernie Cantorna plans to announce his findings next week into the fatal State College police shooting, according to state police Sgt. William Slaton.

Ballistic testing was completed by state police, but Cantorna said he is waiting for the reports from that testing before completing his office’s investigation and report.

The findings of his investigation and report will then be shared privately with both Osaze Osagie’s family and the police officers involved before being shared publicly, Cantorna said.

The investigation has included more than 100 pages of reports, an analysis of more than 10 years of medical history and was “more thorough than a typical investigation,” said Slaton, who is the heritage affairs commander within the state police Equality and Inclusion Office.

Osagie, a 29-year-old diagnosed with autism, was fatally shot when three borough police officers attempted to serve a mental health warrant on him at his apartment along Old Boalsburg Road in March.

State College police immediately handed the investigation over to state police.

According to a state police at Rockview search warrant, Osagie’s father, Sylvester, told police his son was acting erratically — similar to when he was off his medication — and sent text messages that threatened harm to himself or others the day before the shooting.

Osagie confronted the officers when they arrived to serve the warrant, brandished a knife, ignored several verbal commands to drop it and “came after the officers,” according to the warrant. He died of multiple gunshot wounds, according to Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers.

Osagie family attorneys Andrew Shubin and Kathleen Yurchak did not respond to requests for comment. The family previously said the decision to call for police assistance will “forever haunt” them.

Regardless of Cantorna’s determination, the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania believes he and the borough have a duty to be as transparent as possible.

“That includes the name of the officer who killed Osaze, any existing video, and any other relevant information that gives the community the full picture of what happened,” ACLU-PA spokesman Andy Hoover said. “As public employees, police should not be allowed to kill behind a cloak of secrecy.”

The shooting has prompted a series of community meetings to discuss race, mental health and the role police play in both. Borough Council President Evan Myers has said the borough is working to organize two new groups and is evaluating the creation of an equity and inclusion office.

Two borough police officers present during the shooting are back to work on restricted duty, while the officer who fired the shots remains on administrative leave, according to State College police Lt. Greg Brauser.

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Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He grew up in Lewistown and graduated from Lock Haven University.