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Syracuse police officer cleared by grand jury in fatal shooting

Tom Magnarelli
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick holds the shotgun that was used by the woman who was killed.

A Syracuse police officer has been cleared by a grand jury of any wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of an armed woman.

Police officers Darrin Ettinger and Jeremy Decker were called to the scene back in February on a complaint of drug dealing. Upon arriving, the woman, brandishing a sawed-off shotgun, ran away from police officers, who told her multiple times to drop her weapon. The woman turned and pivoted towards Decker, pointing the gun in his direction. Ettinger fired two shots that hit the woman.

Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said he has been asked if lethal force was necessary.

“This was not an appropriate situation to use a taser," Fitzpatirck said. "This was a woman with a loaded, illegal shotgun that was pivoting to turn in the judgment of Officer Ettinger and in the judgment of any fair person looking at that tape, to point the gun in the direction of Officer Decker. I honestly don’t know as I’m standing here if whether or not Officer Decker had a bullet proof vest on, if he did, it wouldn’t have mattered. This deer slug would have blown him away.”

The district attorney's office released video of the shooting. Fitzpatrick said he has seen public comments from family members that the woman had unaddressed mental issues. Police do not if she was the reason for the initial call and say they have no indication that she was dealing drugs.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.