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Sedgwick County DA: Officers justified in deadly shooting of armed man in S. Wichita

The scene from a May 2019 deadly officer-involved shooting in S. Wichita. The Sedgwick County...
The scene from a May 2019 deadly officer-involved shooting in S. Wichita. The Sedgwick County district attorney concluded on Feb. 23, 2021 that the officers were justified in using deadly force in this case.(KWCH 12)
Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 3:41 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett on Tuesday (Feb. 23) announced his findings in review of a deadly officer-involved shooting that happened in May 2019 in south Wichita. Laying out the facts of the case, investigation details and a legal review, Bennett concluded that under the circumstances of the case, the Wichita Police Department officers and Sedgwick County Sheriff’s deputies involved “are immune from prosecution under Kansas law.”

“Under Kansas law and the facts of the case, I conclude that no criminal charges will be filed against the officers and deputies,” Bennett concluded in his 31-page review.

On May 27, 2019, five WPD officers and five sheriff’s deputies utilized deadly force that resulted in the death of 49-year-old Robert Sabater, of Wichita. At about 1:20 a.m. on May 27, WPD officers responded to a report of shots fired at a south Wichita home. Police said he sporadically entered and exited the home while firing shots before running out and heading toward an officer.

Police said Sabater didn’t follow orders and ran. They found him at Dora and Glenn, armed with a handgun which they said he pointed at officers after they repeatedly had told him to put the gun down. The report from police said the WPD officers and sheriff’s deputies fired at Sabater, who died at the scene.

The officers involved were placed on administrative leave, which the WPD said is standard department procedure during officer-involved shootings. The KBI assisted in the investigation. Bennett elaborated on the initial report from police. He confirmed that the investigation established that Sabater fired multiple rounds both inside and outside of his house, causing neighbors to call 911 and law enforcement to respond.

“When officers and deputies arrived, he continued to shoot his handgun out the front door of his residence,” Bennett said.

He said one sergeant, a 12-year veteran with the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office, returned fire “to no effect.”

“Mr. Sabater later ran with a gun into the street, ignored verbal commands to drop his gun, and ran north of his house. Officers did not fire initially due to concerns they would expose one another to crossfire compounded by poor visibility as a result of heavy rain,” Bennett said. “The officers pursued Mr. Sabater on foot. When they verbally commanded him to drop his weapon, Mr. Sabater instead raised his handgun at the officers who responded by shooting.”

Citing the investigation, Bennett said it appeared to officers that Sabater went to the ground, but he got back up to run. Officers reported that he again turned his weapon on the officers, “several of whom shot – nearly simultaneously –killing Mr. Sabater,” Bennett said.

In Bennett’s report, he said two officers reported hearing Sabater repeatedly yell the phrase, “shoot me.”

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