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Preliminary Review Clears Officer Involved in Fatal Shooting

A preliminary review of an officer-involved shooting in St. Joseph indicates that "no criminal conduct" occurred.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) A preliminary review of an officer-involved shooting in St. Joseph indicates that no criminal charges will be filed against the officer.

Buchanan County Prosecutor Dwight Scroggins reviewed the case and said Patrick Zeamer's actions were within his rights under Missouri law.

Zeamer shot John Weipert during a call on March 10. Weipert was at his home in the 1500 block of South 41st Street in St. Joseph when police responded to a call that Weipert had been drinking and appeared to be depressed. Police were informed that Weipert had access to firearms, but was not armed at the time.

According to the prosecutor's report, Weipert asked police to not respond to his home, stating that he was fine. Police, instead, staged a response area behind Weipert's home while a negotiator spoke to him on the phone. Initial attempts to get closer to Weipert to check his well-being were unsuccessful.

Scroggins said that at some point during the negotiations, police learned Weipert had access to a .45 caliber handgun. A woman at the scene tried to get the gun from the garage while police talked to Weipert, but he allegedly chased her and took the gun away from her. Eventually, Scroggins says, Weipert put the handgun on the ground in his front yard and continued to talk to police and others at the scene.

The investigation revealed that officers used a police canine to approach Weipert, while Zeamer protected the canine and its handler. Zeamer was armed with a rifle.

According to the report, Weipert moved away from the gun as the canine approached, but another dog in the area interrupted the actions. The canine handler fell to the ground during the attempted intervention. Officers approached to intervene, but the report states that Weipert moved toward the handgun on the ground and attempted to pick it up, despite "clear" and "completely audible" orders from police to stop.

At that point, according to the prosecutor's review, Zeamer fired four shots, striking Weipert twice. The other two shots missed.

Scroggins said Zeamer acted within his rights.

"It is my determination that during the fatal shooting of John L. Weipert, no criminal conduct occurred. The officer involved was potentially threatened with the use of deadly force and therefore, under Missouri law, the officer was allowed to use deadly force to respond," said Scroggins.

The final autopsy and toxicology results are still pending. Scroggins said the final determination will be made when those tests are complete.

Zeamer was placed on administrative leave during the investigation. According to the St. Joseph Police Department, he is now back on full duty.
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