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Butler County prosecutor: Fatal police encounter inside Walgreens lasted 8 seconds

Grand jury declines to indict Hamilton officer
Posted: 9:57 AM, Aug 29, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-29 18:34:58-04
No indictment in fatal Hamilton police shooting
No indictment in fatal Hamilton police shooting

Hamilton police shared surveillance footage from inside the Walgreens store Monday, the first time the video has been released to the public. You can watch it in the media player above.

HAMILTON, Ohio -- A Walgreens pharmacist had given Kelley Brandon Forte everything he wanted last week, Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said.

Forte wanted drugs, Bucheit said; the female pharmacist complied. He wanted money, Bucheit said: She'd gone to two cash registers.

Still, Bucheit said Forte didn't leave. And he had a large hunting knife.

"This suspect was in the pharmacy for nine minutes," Bucheit said. "Nine agonizingly slow, terrifying minutes."

The chief spent Monday afternoon detailing the events of Aug. 22, when Hamilton Police Officer Kevin Ruhl shot and killed the 34-year-old Forte inside the Walgreens store.

Watch the entire news conference below:

 

Forte had put the 10-inch fixed-blade skinning knife to the woman's throat, Bucheit said, as he shared surveillance footage from inside the store.

"He doesn't just rob her," Bucheit said. "He terrorizes her. He kidnaps her, takes her out of the pharmacy into a back room, brings her out of that room, holds her hostage."

Forte's intentions weren't clear, Bucheit said, but the pharmacist believed he was going to hurt her.

"He made references that he was going to be her date, that he was going to take her to the bathroom, that they were going to have a date," Bucheit said.

The surveillance footage, captured on several cameras around the High Street store, showed the moment Forte entered the store to the moment Ruhl, a nine-year veteran of the Hamilton Police Department, shot him.

Bucheit said the pharmacist initially told her manager she was OK, but the manager realized something wasn't right. About five minutes later, the manager and a customer called 911. The customer, who was outside the store, alerted the officers when they arrived.

When Forte heard the officers at the front of the pharmacy, he grabbed the pharmacist tight and held the blade to her throat, Bucheit said.

The next thing she knew, Forte had left her, and she saw him moving to her left and heading toward the two officers, Bucheit said. She retreated into a break room.

Video shows Forte charging at Ruhl, who fired two shots, Bucheit said. Forte continued down the aisle toward Ruhl, stumbled briefly and continued on.

A third officer arrived, and Ruhl fired a third and final shot near the store's rear drive-through window.

Forte began to fall to the ground, and Ruhl took him into custody, Bucheit said.

ALSO: What Forte wrote to a judge last year

Start to finish, the fatal encounter lasted just eight seconds, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said.

The prosecutor announced Monday that a grand jury declined to induct Ruhl.

Bucheit said both officers were receiving departmental counseling. They'll be reinstated to full duty when it's determined they're ready.

"Their response to this situation was tremendous," Bucheit said. "They are both heroes."

Bucheit also said he'd spoken with Forte's family Monday morning; they were still grieving and trying to process the video footage, he said.

Gmoser said Monday misconceptions around officer-involved shootings "often run rampant:"

"By judicial authority from the United States Supreme Court and followed by our Ohio Supreme Court, police officer conduct is governed by objective standards of a reasonable police officer and permits the use of deadly force in numerous fact-specific circumstances without the threat of a criminal prosecution for murder or assault," he said in a written statement. "In this case the key standards that apply are the severity of the crime, such as aggravated robbery/kidnapping by knife threatening immediate and deadly harm by the assailant, whether the assailant posed an immediate threat to the safety of the officer or others or whether such an assailant was actively resisting arrest or attempting to evade arrest by flight."

The prosecutor also warned: "Any would-be assailant threatening or using deadly force in the commission of a crime should consider that upon being confronted in the act by police, a failure to immediately surrender may result in the application of justified deadly force by police."