A grand jury has declined to charge police in the December shooting of a mentally ill Rockland County man, officials said Tuesday.
The grand jury found that Officer John Roper was acting in defense when he shot Herve Gilles during a fight outside a bar at about 3:22 a.m. on Dec. 14.
Gilles' family said Tuesday they were "disappointed" in the grand jury's decision, and their lawyer said they would pursue a civil lawsuit and a federal investigation.
The shooting of the unarmed Haitian immigrant has brought protests in the community.
According to Rockland County District Attorney Thomas P. Zugibe, Roper was responding to a call that Gilles was throwing rocks near a bar on Furman Place in Spring Valley.
Zugibe said in a statement Tuesday that Gilles "attacked and assaulted" the officer after taking his nightstick.
The officer was in pain, with a numb arm, and "was in fear for his life," Zugibe said. He fired at Gilles as he raised the nightstick again, but Gilles continued to hit him with the nightstick.
He fired again and struck Gilles in the head, killing him.
The grand jury, Zugibe said, found that Roper "was justified in using deadly physical force against Mr. Gilles."
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