MUHLENBERG TOWNSHIP, Pa. - A Muhlenberg Township police officer will not face charges after he shot and killed a knife-wielding man who charged at officers during a domestic incident last month, District Attorney John T. Adams announced Thursday.
Officers from the Muhlenberg Township Police Department were called to a home on Wagon Wheel Lane on Mar. 15 after a woman placed two 911 calls about her uncle who was acting threateningly. She told police her uncle, Stephen J. Hughes, suffered from alcoholism and had a mental health illness, and was locked inside a second-floor bedroom with a knife, investigators said.
Hughes, according to the unnamed niece, lived at the home with his mother and had a history of violent outbursts. Investigators said the niece was threatened by Hughes at knife-point a day before the officer-involved shooting but was not harmed.
Following a failed attempt to convince Hughes to come out of the bedroom, two Muhlenberg Township officers entered the room and were allegedly charged at by a knife-wielding Hughes. Police said a taser charge did not affect Hughes and an officer shot him in the chest.
Hughes was rushed to Reading Hospital where he died, according to investigators. It was later determined by a toxicology report that Hughes had a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .268%, which is three times the legal limit to drive in Pennsylvania. Forensic Pathologist Dr. Neil Hoffman added that acute and chronic alcoholism and bipolar disorder contributed to his death.
District Attorney John T. Adams on Thursday cleared the officer who fatally shot Hughes of any wrongdoing, saying in part that the officer was "reasonable in his belief that he and the other officer were in imminent danger of death or serious bodily injury."
"It is also reasonable to believe that Hughes had the intent and means to inflict death or serious bodily injury to the officers, and the officer’s use of deadly force under these circumstances was reasonable and therefore privileged under Pennsylvania law," DA Adams said.
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