The Bourbon police officer who shot and killed Gary Wenzel last Wednesday was justified in his actions, a Crawford County coroner's inquest jury ruled late Tuesday.
Wenzel, who had had several run-ins with Franklin County and St. Clair police in the past, was shot three times and killed by Bourbon Police Officer Carl Storm between 10:30 and 10:45 a.m. after a high-speed chase that ended north of the town.
"The shooting was ruled to be justified," Missouri Highway Patrol Troop I Public Information Officer Sgt. Dan Crain told The Missourian Wednesday morning.
Crain said the patrol's Division of Drug and Crime Control continues to investigate the shooting.
According to published reports, the six jurors, along with the victim’s family members, media, and interested citizens, listened to nearly a dozen law enforcement officers describe their respective roles in investigating last week’s fatal shooting of Wenzel, 50, on Highway J and Fann Road two miles north of Bourbon.
The March 5 pursuit began at about 10:30 a.m. when Storm attempted to stop a black, Chevrolet Cavalier because it matched a car that was involved in a chase on Feb. 21 in and around Sullivan, the highway patrol reported.
The published reports stated that the dash-camera police video shown during the inquest revealed that the Cavalier crashed into a ditch at the Highway J and Fann Road intersection about 11 minutes after the chase began. The police vehicle stopped about 15 feet away.
After Wenzel unsuccessfully tried to back up his car, he exited and walked quickly toward the police car with his arms swinging and hands open.
The video showed that within seconds, Wenzel fell to the ground. He died at the scene after being shot three times — in the thigh, chest and head.
For more, see the Weekend Missourian.