DA: No prosecution for cop

BRIAN WILLIAMS

BY ROBERT L. BAKER

Wyoming County Press Examiner

The Wyoming County District Attorney’s office has decided that it will not prosecute the police officer who fatally shot a Lake Winola man while serving a mental health warrant last fall.

DA Jeff Mitchell said that Brian P. Williams was shot twice by Tunkhannock Township police officer Mark Papi on the afternoon of Nov. 7.

MARK PAPI

At 1:42 p.m., the Community Counseling Services had contacted the Wyoming County 911 center requesting that a mental health commitment be served on Williams, because it was alleged he had threatened to kill his wife.

Overfield Twp. police were first on the scene and immediately requested assistance from surrounding police departments which arrived within an hour and met to discuss a strategy, Mitchell said.

A perimeter around the home was established to keep Williams from escaping, and Tunkhannock Twp. Police Chief Stanley Ely established rapport with Williams.

A statement from the DA’s office notes that at the time, Williams became increasingly agitated and refused to cooperate with the warrant, and was adamant that he would not be taken into custody for mental health treatment.

Police acquired a key to the home from the Williams’ family, and a group of six officers, including Papi, assembled at the front door to enter the home.

The officers entered the home and located Williams in a bedroom with the door closed. The statement notes that they made repeated requests for Williams to open the door, but he would not do so.

Patrolman Robert Roberts of the Tunkhannock Township police began pushing on the door with officer Papi behind him.

According to the statement, the door gave way and the officers fell into the room with Roberts falling into Williams.

Williams got up, and according to the DA’s statement had a fireplace poker about two feet long with a pointed end in hand and started to swing it at officers.

Officers then fired tasers at Williams three times to subdue him but they had minimal effect.

Officer Papi repeatedly ordered Williams to drop the poker, but he failed to cooperate.

Papi subsequently drew his weapon.

The DA’s statement notes that Williams stepped towards Papi and Roberts, neither of whom were wearing helmets, and Williams began a swinging motion with his right arm where the poker could come down on top of Papi.

Officer Roberts reached for his weapon, and at that point officer Papi fired twice at Williams.

Williams fell onto the bed and then rolled onto the floor. Officers attempted to revive Williams and an ambulance was called at 3:58 p.m.

The coroner pronounced Williams dead at the scene.

As a result an investigation was initiated by the Pennsylvania State Police and Wyoming County DA’s office.

An autopsy was performed on Nov. 8, which indicated Williams was shot twice.

The report noted that one bullet entered the right hand, exited the hand and entered the left arm where a bullet was recovered.

The other bullet entered the right arm, exited the arm and entered the right chest where the right lung was perforated and the bullet penetrated the heart.

Mitchell said, “Even if, for the sake of argument, this office desired to prosecute Papi, it is clear the Commonwealth would never be able to meet its burden of proof at trial.”

Mitchell also noted there was not a single eyewitness that could prove Papi acted with criminal intent, and “There is also a lack of corroborating evidence to prove such intent.”

He said that after review of all of the evidence, “Officer Papi acted in self defense pursuant to the law and shall not be prosecuted for a criminal offense.”

Mitchell offered condolences to the Williams family, and said “While there was no criminal intent to kill Mr. Williams, mistakes were made while serving the mental health warrant.

He added, “In the hope that this tragedy will not be repeated, this office will be meeting with the police departments involved.”


  • c0rrupti0n

    Negotiating would have been a lot better than using force. Just have to wait it out until they show signs of reasoning, understanding or become calm. Part of conducting a 302 warrant under § 5100.86 involves explaining to the person why they are being taken for treatment. Those escorting are also supposed to make EVERY effort to use the LEAST force necessary and act in a COURTEOUS manner, giving attention to the dignity of the individual. Even once you get into a treatment facility all your rights must be explained to you and determined by doctors whether you understand them or not. They must examine and release you within 2 hours if they don’t believe you have a mental illness, and after 5 days unless you agree to stay longer for treatment, or extended by director.

    None of the articles or investigation on the shooting mentions anything about the police trying to negotiate or explain why he was being taken for examination, just that he was agitated and adamant about not going. That alone should have been the first sign to let the situation cool or negotiate further instead of escalating the situation, entering his house, and trying to drag him out by busting down his door. This is basic common sense. To even issue a 302 warrant, you are stating the person has lost self-control, judgement, and reasoning which causes them to be a risk to themselves or others. Treating the situation with anything other than compassion is asking for the situation to go awry. 

    You don’t see cops raiding a building with guns blazing in a hostage situation, which technically this was. It’s a failure of police training and the mental health system. In no way am I saying having a mental illness should give you exclusion from the law. Police shouldn’t be allowed to abuse and use excessive force just because someone has a mental illness. The law states they are supposed to do the exact opposite. 

  • Tunkguy

     I saw your first comment.  To quote you….
    “Clearly they don’t understand that schizophrenics have a lost touch with reality and might not fully understand or comprehend what’s even happening at the time”. 

    Then what good would any negotiating skills have had on the
    matter???  PS:  Having a mental illness is no exclusion from obeying the
    law.  Just sayin’…

  • Tunkguy

    “Clearly they don’t understand that schizophrenics have a lost touch with
    reality and might not fully understand or comprehend what’s even
    happening at the time”. 

    Then what good would any negotiating skills have had on the matter???  PS:  Having a mental illness is no exclusion from obeying the law.  Just sayin’…

  • c0rrupti0n

    A true nazi newspaper stifling free speech – proving the editors are just as corrupt as those who control Wyoming County…no surprise, but you can still read the comments by looking at the source code! Guess someone had a problem with all the likes on my comment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.shafer.75 Scott Shafer

    My last comment about the corrupt police/da department got deleted. Big surprise.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.shafer.75 Scott Shafer

    My last comment about the corrupt police/da department got deleted. Big surprise.

  • kwoodruff1

    teast

  • c0rrupti0n

    The story must have the wrong names. Mr. Williams was the one acting in self-defense while his room was raided by improperly trained police. Who is crazy enough to bust down a door with a shield (not proper police procedure for clearing a closed door in a home) with a paranoid schizophrenic behind it? Clearly they don’t understand that schizophrenics have a lost touch with reality and might not fully understand or comprehend what’s even happening at the time.

    These small time cops need to be properly trained on mental illness and how to clear a building. Some negotiating skills and common sense would be nice too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.shafer.75 Scott Shafer

    Dirty cops as usual. Listen to a cheating wife who is sleeping with a local officer and kill an innocent man. Big surprise!