Coroner abandons inquiry into fatal Wyoming police shooting

RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) — A coroner has called off a public inquest into a fatal shooting by a police officer in Wyoming, citing lack of cooperation from a local prosecutor.

Fremont County Coroner Mark Stratmoen will instead list the cause of death of 58-year-old Anderson Antelope on Sept. 21 as “undetermined.”

A Riverton police officer shot Antelope in a confrontation outside a Walmart. Antelope was wielding a knife but body armor shielded the officer from injury, witnesses said.

The officer, whose name hasn’t been released, has been placed on leave.

Fremont County Attorney Pat Lebrun announced Nov. 29 he would not file charges because he believed the officer was lawfully defending himself and others.

Lebrun has criticized Stratmoen’s planned inquest as unnecessary. Lebrun’s unwillingness to cooperate with the Coroner’s Office has prevented it from pursuing the inquiry, Stratmoen wrote in a news release Thursday.

Wyoming Public Radio reports an inquest jury, composed of three Fremont County residents chosen by Stratmoen, would have had no official power to prosecute or exonerate.

The process would have allowed for a public airing of the evidence while offering some degree of transparency and closure, Stratmoen said.
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Information from: KUWR-FM, http://uwadmnweb.uwyo.edu/wpr/

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