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Chief: Hamilton man killed by officer intentionally lured police, provoked officer to shoot him

Chief: Man officer killed provoked him to shoot
Posted at 6:20 PM, May 02, 2017

HAMILTON, Ohio -- The man shot and killed by a police officer last month intentionally provoked the officer to shoot him, Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said in a press conference Tuesday.

Officer Steven McFall, 41, shot and killed Wilson-Salzl, 24, at about 3 p.m. April 22 in the parking lot of Knollwood Crossing apartments, police said, after Wilson-Salzl engaged in a "confrontation" with McFall while carrying a 13-inch butcher knife.

"It's clear that his intentions were to lure the officers there and to provoke a lethal force encounter," Bucheit said.

The grand jury returned a "no indictment" decision Monday based on statements from witnesses, a 911 call and evidence recovered at the scene.

Bucheit said in a Tuesday press conference that McFall's actions were "lawful and proper."

McFall was responding to a shooting Wilson-Salzl had reported at the apartment complex. When McFall arrived, Wilson-Salzl "closed in" on him with a "large, fixed-blade knife," according to Bucheit.

Wilson-Salzl had been hospitalized two days before his encounter with McFall.

"He had admitted that he was actively contemplating suicide," Bucheit said.

The incident wasn't Wilson-Salzl's first run-in with police; Wilson-Salzl lured officers to the apartment complex in 2016, 13 months before McFall shot and killed Wilson-Salzl, Bucheit said. In the 2016 incident, Wilson-Salzl had "pieces of wood" taped together to look as if he had a gun.

Officers were able to defuse that situation, but Bucheit said the details of McFall's encounter with Wilson-Salzl left him with no choice but to shoot.

"The officer had no time to retreat, gain cover, to do anything other than what he did to defend himself," Bucheit said.

Bucheit said Wilson-Salzl's mother told McFall she was "sorry" he had to shoot.

"His mother had said the night we notified her that she wasn't surprised that something like this could happen," Bucheit said.

McFall is struggling with the situation, Bucheit said, and he is receiving departmental counseling.

"This takes a toll," Bucheit said. "The words of Michael's mother I think resonated with him. I think he found a great deal of solace in that, that she understood."

Bucheit said McFall will return to work when he feels like he is ready.

McFall is a 17-year veteran of the Hamilton Police Department.