New Hope, PA – The veteran New Hope police officer who critically wounded a combative inmate by mistakenly grabbing his duty gun instead of his Taser will not be criminally charged for his actions, the Buck’s County district attorney determined (video below).
The incident occurred inside a Bucks County jail facility holding cell on March 3, after 38-year-old Brian Riling was arrested for stalking his estranged girlfriend, The Star-Ledger reported.
In a series of 100 text messages, Riling allegedly told the woman that he wanted her to die, and also threatened to kill himself.
The six-foot, four-inch, 240-pound construction worker attacked her outside her workplace when she finished her shift, grabbing her by the throat and spitting in her face, police said.
After he was arrested, Riling was taken to a holding cell at the jail facility, where he was told to remove his belt.
In doing so, a package of suspected narcotics fell from his waistband, and landed on the floor, surveillance footage showed.
Riling attempted to conceal the package by stepping on it, but another officer had already spotted the suspected contraband.
The officer tried to push the suspect onto a bench so he could seize the package, at which point the suspect began to fight with him.
During the ensuing struggle, Riling managed to toss the suspected drugs into a toilet inside the holding cell, Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub said in a press release.
A second officer jumped into the melee to help subdue Riling, then warned his partner that he was going to deploy his Taser, the video showed.
“Taser!” the officer yelled, just before he shot Riling in the abdomen with his duty weapon.
Riling immediately dropped to the floor, and the officers rushed out of the cell.
“Riling is seen flushing the toilet as he slumps to the ground,” Weintraub noted.
He then began writhing on the floor, and started begging for help, the video showed.
“Did you shoot me with a gun?” he asked. “What the f–k are you doing? Take me to a f–king hospital!”
Officers delivered emergency aid before Riling was transported to St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, The Star-Ledger reported.
He remained in critical condition for several days, and has since been released from the hospital, Weintraub said.
The unnamed officer who shot Riling was placed on paid administrative leave after the officer-involved shooting, according to The Star-Ledger.
He had decades of exemplary service with the New Hope Police Department prior to the incident.
The veteran officer retired from the agency on April 10.
“After careful consideration, I have determined that [the officer’s] shooting of arrestee Brian Riling on March 3, 2019, was neither justified, nor criminal, but was excused,” Weintraub explained in a letter to New Hope Police Chief Michael Cummings on April 12.
Because the officer thought he had drawn his Taser – which Weintraub said would have been justified – he did not “possess the criminal mental state required to be guilty of a crime under state law,” the district attorney concluded.
He noted that the officer violated department policy by carrying his Taser in front of his duty weapon instead of on his non-dominant side.
But that action did not violate any laws, Weintraub explained.
“Police officers are called upon to make split-second decisions and with this, it was in defense of a fellow officer with a large man…who had professed he was not going back to prison, announced he would kill himself, and was fighting with an officer in a jail cell,” the officer’s attorney, William Goldman, told the Bucks County Courier Times.
“This man had committed burglary with a crowbar, he assaulted [the estranged girlfriend], he stalked her, he instructed her to lie, he resisted arrest,” Goldman recounted. “It’s important to know the events that led up to this incident. Really important.”
You can watch surveillance footage of the officers’ altercation with Riling in the video below: