District attorney says police justified in shooting Dylan Ruffin in incident near Highlands

Jay Senter - April 19, 2019 11:34 am
Dylan Ruffin made his first in-person in Johnson County District Court earlier this month.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe’s office today released the conclusions of its review of the officer-involved shooting across the street from Highlands Elementary March 1.

Howe said the use of potentially deadly force by three officers who discharged their weapons at Ruffin after he exited the front of a home brandishing a handgun was justified, and that no criminal charges would be pursued against the officers.

Ruffin was injured by the officers’ bullets, and was subsequently arrested, treated, and then booked into jail. He made his first in-person appearance in court April 10. A scheduling conference in his case is set for mid-May.

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A fact sheet distributed by the DA’s office along with the announcement provides new details in the case, including the assertion that Ruffin had indicated in the past that he had envisioned getting into a gun fight with police so that they would kill him and that he had told his mother he wanted to die the day the incident took place.

The handgun he pointed at the officers on his mother’s front lawn that day was equipped with an extended magazine that allowed it to hold more bullets.

The full fact sheet released by the DA’s office today is below:

• Highlands Elementary School (Shawnee Mission School District) is located on Roe Boulevard near 62nd Street in Mission, Johnson County Kansas.

• On 3/1/19, a Mission Kansas police officer was at the school teaching DARE.

• At approximately 1330 hours, the officer was summoned to the playground. A staff member told the officer that several children and teachers reported hearing gunshots while they were playing outside. The officer walked around the playground but found nothing of concern. While he was outside the school principal called him and asked him to report to a second floor classroom.

• The officer entered the classroom and noticed right away that it was damaged: the east window had what appeared to be a bullet hole in it, and there was glass and a bullet on the floor. None of these things had been present a mere hour or two earlier when the officer had taught DARE in the same classroom. No one had been inside when the window was shot, and no one at the school was hurt. A decision was made to dismiss students early due to the apparent shooting. The officer asked for assistance in investigating this crime and for security during dismissal of the school children. This dismissal continued to occur as law enforcement investigated the incident.

• At approximately 1445 hours, the Mission Officer received a call from a Johnson County Sheriff’s deputy. The deputy had heard the radio traffic about the shooting at the school and told the Mission Officer he had information that may be relevant to the shooting. He reported that on the previous day, he had been parked across the street from Highlands grade school on 62nd Street, in Fairway. The resident of 4631 W. 62nd street, later identified as Dylan RUFFIN was seen shooting an airsoft pellet gun at a passing vehicle. The Deputy showed his badge to Ruffin, but did not approach him. The deputy believed that Ruffin fired a pellet at his undercover vehicle. As the Deputy left the area, Ruffin pointed a weapon at the police vehicle. The deputy notified the Fairway PD of this incident. A Fairway officer later made contact with Ruffin, who said that he was shooting at squirrels and road signs with his airsoft because he was bored. Ruffin denied intentionally shooting at or pointing his weapon at any law enforcement officer. Ruffin was cited for unlawful discharge of a pellet gun in the city limits and the airsoft pellet gun was seized.

• After receiving this information, officers attempted to contact the resident of 4631 W. 62nd Street, but no one answered the door. In addition to the apparent bullet damage to the second story classroom at Highlands, police officers at the scene found a van parked in the east lot of the school that had shattered windows, consistent with bullet damage.
Officers then began discussing the next course of action as investigators processed evidence at the school. At approximately 1511 hours, officers were told that there were two 911 “hang-up” calls from 4631 W. 62nd street.

• A Fairway officer and several Mission police officers then approached the residence. When the group arrived at the house, they were met by Ruffin’s mother. She told the officers that Ruffin was inside and he had a gun, but it was not loaded. During the conversation, which took place on the front porch of the house, the door slammed from the inside. Officers believed that they now had a barricaded subject, and escorted Ruffin’s mother across the street to safety. Officers decided to move away from the front of the house to safer positions. They told other citizens in the area to take cover and move away from the house.

• Officers then began ordering Ruffin to come out of the house with his hands up. Soon thereafter, Ruffin stepped out of the front door and pointed a handgun with an extended magazine towards multiple officers, Two Mission and one Fairway officer then fired their weapons at Ruffin. He was hit, and he was subsequently taken into custody.

• Each officer who fired shots believed their life was in danger and fired their weapons to protect themselves and other individuals in the immediate area. Ruffin was treated and released to the jail, where he awaits disposition of the case filed against him for these events, 19CR584.

• Ruffin’s mother later told officers that Ruffin had told her in the past that he wanted to get in a gun fight with police so they could kill him. She told police Ruffin said he “wanted to die” earlier that day. She had been arguing with Ruffin just before the police knocked on her door.

• Officers found what appeared to be bullet holes on the second story exterior wall of Ruffin’s residence, facing Highland Elementary School. During the execution of a search warrant, officers saw multiple apparent bullet holes on the west wall of a second story bedroom, which is in the direction of Highland Elementary School.
Analysis

• Police were lawfully at 4631 W. 62nd Street Police had a duty to respond to the 911 hang-up calls at Ruffin’s residence. By the time they did, and particularly after Ruffin’s mother told them he had a gun, they had developed probable cause that someone inside 4631 W. 62nd Street had fired the bullets that hit the van and the school.

• At the time that the shooting occurred, police were in the process of trying to get Ruffin outside to detain and/or arrest him. Police also knew of his encounter with a sheriff’s deputy the day before. Police were authorized to be at the scene and had more than enough probable cause to detain/arrest Dylan Ruffin.

• The use of deadly force was clearly justified in this instance

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