COLUMBIA, Mo. - Columbia police released a report detailing why no charges will be filed in connection with the shooting of Clarence Coats.
The 284 pages detail what led up to Officer Chris Papineau firing a single shot at Coats, 41, atop the building at 611 North Garth Avenue. Papineau, 39, told investigators with the Missouri State Highway Patrol he thought he saw Coats leaning forward, armed with a gun, and feared he was moving into a more stable position to fire at people outside the Oak Towers apartment complex.
ABC 17 previously reported that Columbia police and Boone County deputies responded to reports of a man threatening people with a gun and firing shots in the 100 block of Oak Street on May 13. After several minutes there, Coats dropped out of the tree and ran from the scene, re-appearing in the 600 block of Garth Avenue. Officers in an armored police car tried to get Clarence Coats to drop his gun there before an officer shot and killed him, troopers said.
Family members said Coats suffered from a mental illness that led to a mental breakdown and ultimately his death.
A spokesperson for the Columbia Police Department said officers cooperated in an investigation conducted by troopers.
David Tyson Smith, an attorney for the Coats family, said several inconsistencies existed in the various police officer accounts
"I don't see a strong justification for him being shot right now," Smith said.
On Dec. 7, Callaway County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Wilson released his findings and determined that no charges will be filed in connection to the incident.
In the report, police said Officer Papineau was called in as a member of the SWAT team and was not wearing a body camera during the incident.
For more information on the shooting, click here.
Scene on Oak Street
Officers first encountered Coats in the 100 block of Oak Street. Witnesses and a family friend told investigators that Coats took a shotgun from his parents' house and climbed into a tree in the backyard. As the first officers arrived, Coats began shooting, according to Officer Maria Phelps' report. She and Sgt. Meyer tried speaking with him, the report said, but the bullets kept coming.
A Boone County sheriff's deputy was hit with a shotgun pellet in the arm, according to the reports.
A family friend said Coats had been struggling recently after his 18-year relationship ended. He began fighting with his family and began using meth, the friend said.
The flight to Garth Avenue
After 30 minutes in the tree, Coats dropped the gun and leaped to the ground. An deputy reported seeing Coats grab the gun and run north through a wooded area.
The department's SWAT team was activated during this time, according to the dispatch log provided in the report. Officers met at Garth Avenue and Ash Street and headed to the scene in the armored Bearcat vehicle.
The report said Papineau did not have a body-worn camera that day, so no video of the shooting from his perspective exists. The officer told investigators he was not working that day, but was paged in to work on the SWAT team as part of the response to the shootings on Oak Street.
The SWAT team arrived at the scene on Garth Avenue in the Bearcat. Papineau reported that Coats was acting "fidgety" on top of the building, according to a summary of his Highway Patrol interview, and had a shot lined up at one point from the turret hatch of the department's armored Bearcat vehicle.
Assistant Chief Jeremiah Hunter, though, told him to "hang on," Papineau said.
In a written report from Hunter, the assistant chief told another officer to use the Bearcat's public address system to try and speak to Coats. That officer, however, could not get the system to work, according to the report.
Papineau then said he saw Coats lean forward, with his gun pointing across the street. Fearing he was about to fire at someone else, Papineau said he fired one round at Coats' midsection.
David Tyson Smith, attorney for the Coats family, said many reports showed inconsistencies in officer statements about the shooting. One officer said Coats was standing when he was shot. Smith said his own investigation has led to other questions in the case, but was not willing to share them publicly.
"There's too many people there to all of them have a different type of story about what was going on," Smith said.
Multiple officers and witnesses reported seeing Coats on top of the building with a gun, but no report mentions Coats shooting while there.