Investigation clears detective in bank shooting

Detective David Williams, the 11- year veteran police officer who shot and killed bank robbery suspect Matthew Andersen, was cleared of any policy violation yesterday following an internal investigation.

The shooting occurred last Wednesday after officers responded to a 911 emergency call reporting a robbery in progress at Arvest Bank on Garland Ave.

According to a release issued by city staff, Fayetteville Police Chief Greg Tabor said the suspect, who was reported to be in a white passenger car in the bank’s drive-through lane, presented a note to a bank employee demanding money. The note implied accomplices were watching the bank’s entrances and stated that if the robbery demands were not met, the employees “were in for a painful experience.”

Upon arrival, officers located the suspect near the drive-through window and announced their presence. The suspect began backing away from Detective Williams, who was blocking the front side of his vehicle. In doing so, the suspect nearly struck two other officers and despite being warned to stop and show his hands, the suspect then began ramming an occupied vehicle behind his car several times in an attempt to escape.

From the release:

Due to the suspect’s reckless actions with seemingly no regard for the safety of those around him, Detective Williams fired his service weapon a total of three times at the suspect to stop the threat. The suspect was wounded as a result of the shooting and his injuries proved fatal.

No officers were injured during the altercation.

The department’s policy states that an officer may use deadly force to protect himself or others if he has reasonable belief of immediate threat of death or serious physical injury. The internal investigation revealed that Detective Williams did not attempt to use deadly force until such time that he realized Andersen was not going to respond to their commands and began ramming the vehicle of an innocent bystander. Detective Williams, as well as other officers present, say they felt that the potential threat to them and others presented by Andersen’s reckless actions called for the use of deadly force to end that threat.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its own independent investigation of this incident. Once complete, that reports will be forwarded to Washington County Circuit Prosecutor John Threet for review.