Grand Jury deems officer-involved shooting justified

Published 6:35 pm Friday, July 1, 2016

A Chilton County Grand Jury declared “no further action be taken” regarding the shooting death of a local man by police officers.

“The finding means the Grand Jury ruled the officers were justified in responding with deadly force when (Michael) Robinson pulled what appeared to be a pistol from his waistband,” according to a press release from C.J. Robinson with the office of 19th Judicial Circuit District Attorney Randall Houston.

Michael Robinson, 43, was fatally shot by officers at his residence on Jan. 23 after pulling a BB gun that was a replica of a firearm from his waistband during a standoff.

Officers were present in response to a 911 call from Michael Robinson’s wife, who claimed he had a knife and a gun.

The Alabama State Bureau of Investigation investigated the incident and presented evidence to the Grand Jury.

Houston announced Jan. 27 that his office deemed the shooting justified.

Houston said officers with both the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office and the Clanton Police Department were called to the residence around 12:57 p.m. Jan. 23 on a report of domestic violence.

Houston said when the officers arrived at the scene, they found Robinson brandishing a sword or machete.

As officers instructed Robinson to drop the weapon, he allegedly pulled what officers thought to be a pistol from his right side.

Houston said Robinson raised the gun roughly three-quarters of the way to full point when the officers shot him.

“As he raised the gun toward the officers, they responded with deadly force,” Houston said.

Houston would not say how many officers fired at Robinson or how many times Robinson was shot, and said the State Bureau of Investigation is continuing to investigate.

Houston also did not specify if the officers who fired at Robinson were employed by the CPD or sheriff’s office.

Houston did say that the officers who shot Robinson had been put on administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Houston said the pistol that Robinson pulled out in front of officers ended up being a pellet gun that looked to be a replica of a Walther CP99.

“The gun appears to have a barrel similar to a semi-automatic,” Houston said. “When officers are under a stressful situation at 25 to 30 feet, there is no way they could have known it was a pellet gun.”

Houston said the video footage of the incident has been turned over to SBI, SBI will release the video after the investigation, and authorities will show it to Robinson’s family.

Houston said in reviewing the video, there was a verbal exchange between Robinson and the officers.

“The goal of the officers was to get him to put down the weapon,” Houston said.

Houston attributed the fact that body cameras were used during the incident as the best piece of evidence.

“The fact that we have video is the best thing we can have,” Houston said. “I am satisfied that the use of lethal force was justified in this situation.”

Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon said he thinks the incident arose because of mental health issues though he knew of no formal diagnosis.

“It’s a tragic thing that a life was lost,” Shearon said. “Our hearts and our prayers go out to the family members.

“We do everything we possibly can to avoid taking anyone’s life. It’s the last thing anyone wants to do. You have to deal with that the rest of your life. It’s a hard thing to deal with.”