Two Columbia police officers were justified in shooting an armed man last May.
That's the decision of a six-member jury Wednesday in a coroner's inquest reviewing the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Ajani Mitchell.
The three-man, three-woman jury found that Officers Matthew Fields and Adam Anderson acted in self-defense as they pursued Mitchell in his backyard because he turned and pointed a gun at them.
Richland County's chief medical examiner Dr. Bradley Marcus testified that Mitchell was shot 12 times.
State Law Enforcement Division senior investigator Dave Lawrence testified that officers are trained to shoot and keep shooting until there's no further threat.
Prior to the incident, Mitchell had behaved strangely and told his mother he was “going to see Allah.”
He had also been standing outside his house with a gun, saying he wanted to shoot police.
Coroner's inquests are rare, but Coroner Gary Watts says he called this one to help clear the air with a public review of what happened.
“I had received numerous contacts about this particular case,” Watts told WVOC. There were lots of theories that were circulating in the community. And I felt like the best way to resolve this was to put it out in the public.
“These are open hearings. Media was present. The public was present. No one was restricted from coming so that everybody can see every part of it.”