COLUMBIA, Mo. - Officers in an armored police car tried to get Clarence Coats to drop his gun before an officer fired, according to a Missouri State Highway Patrol report obtained by ABC 17 News.
The patrol's Division of Drug and Crime Control investigated the shooting, after a Columbia police officer shot Coats on May 13, 2017. Coats later died after falling from the roof of 611 N. Garth Avenue. Special prosecutor Chris Wilson decided not to charge the officer, claiming the shooting was justified due to the threat Coats posed.
The summary of the patrol's investigation, written by Trooper Kyle Seabaugh, claims the officer that shot Coats did so when he believed Coats "was taking a position to begin firing his weapon at law enforcement officers or citizens in the area."
Officers also told investigators that they saw Coats "tampering with a telephone line that ran onto the roof of the building." One officer said Coats fell from the building after being shot with the wire around his neck.
The report given to ABC 17 News is redacted, so does not include the names of the officers or witnesses interviewed as part of the investigation.
David Tyson Smith, attorney for the Coats family, said they are still investigating the issue on their own. Smith said the stories given by different police officers don't match up, which raises red flags for him and the family.
"There's a lot of information that wasn't released to the public, yet the way it was reported was that it was necessary that their son was shot," Smith told ABC 17 News. "And that's not necessarily the case."
Columbia police spokeswoman Bryana Larimer said an internal affairs investigation into the shooting was open and ongoing.
Smith said the discrepancies in officer accounts come up in regards to what Coats was doing on top of the building on Garth Avenue.
"There's one officer who's close to the scene that doesn't see anything," Smith gave as an example. "He should have seen something. We're still looking at it, but something is not adding up in this investigation, as far as what we can tell."
Police officers first encountered Coats that day during a standoff on Oak Street. Wilson wrote that Coats had taken meth, stole a shotgun from his family and began firing at random people from a tree. Eventually, Coats escaped from the scene and climbed onto the building on Garth Avenue, across from Oak Towers. Wilson wrote that the officer that shot held his fire for a time, but shot when Coats appeared to take aim at an uninvolved civilian.
"Undoubtedly, Coats was a threat to every person and law enforcement officer in the area," Wilson wrote.
Wilson also said an officer and sheriff's deputy suffered injuries from shotgun pellets or debris.
Smith did not confirm or deny any of the information revealed in the patrol summary. He said the family wanted to keep its findings to itself for the time being, but said more information would come out.
"There's too many different accounts of what happened up there and why he needed to be shot," Smith said. "I'm not sure that that was necessary, based on what I've seen."