Police officer's deadly shooting ruled justified

- The Reading police officer who shot a man to death last month will not face any charges.

District Attorney John T. Adams determined the shooting was a reasonable act of self-defense and defense of others.

Authorities said on the evening of Feb. 24, officers responded to a 911 call of a man pointing a rifle, later identified as a sawed-off shotgun, at people in the backyard of a home in the 200 block of S. 12th Street.

Then, at the scene, a witness told police the man pointed it “over the backyard fence at a group of people having a barbecue. Included in the group of people were six children ranging in age from two to 12.”

Witnesses also said he was upset someone from the barbeque was smoking in the alley, and the group had to go inside for safety.

Officers tried to make contact with the man, later identified as Michael T. Stoudt. They said he went out his front door and officers on the front sidewalk had their weapons drawn.

They yelled several commands but he didn’t comply.

According to police, instead, he “started to raise his arms and pointed a sawed-off shotgun in the direction of the officers. One officer fired several shots, striking Stoudt who collapsed on the front porch of his residence. Stoudt was found deceased when the officers approached him.”

He’d been shot three times. Later, preliminary results of the autopsy revealed that Stoudt’s blood alcohol content was .306.

An independent investigative agency investigates police officer shootings in Berks County.

It concluded, “The officer was reasonable in his belief that he and fellow officers were in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm due to Stoudt’s actions of refusing to comply with all police commands and pointing the sawed-off shotgun in their direction. It is also reasonable to believe that Stoudt had the intent and means to inflict death or great bodily harm to the officers and that the officer’s use of deadly force under these circumstances was reasonable and therefore privileged under Pennsylvania law.”

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