OLATHE, Kan. — An Olathe police officer is cleared after the Johnson County District Attorney determined a shooting in a parking lot was justified.
District Attorney Steve Howe released the findings Thursday of his investigation into the police-involved shooting outside Strip’s chicken on May 26, 2021.
According to the investigation, the incident began when restaurant employees called police. They were concerned because there was a man who seemed to be either sleeping or passed out inside of a car that was illegally parked in the restaurant’s parking lot.
According to Howe’s investigation, the first officer arrived and knocked on the car’s window a few times, but the driver didn’t respond. The officer also said he noticed a gun sitting on the passenger seat. The officer told investigators that he backed off and waited for backup.
A second officer arrived and both officers approached the car. The first officer knocked on the window again. This time the driver, later identified as Jesse Salazar, woke up, but officers said he appeared disoriented. The officers said they asked Salazar to open the door and get out of the car. Salazar refused to follow the officer’s instructions.
Officers said Salazar reached for the gun in the front seat several times. Salazar eventually picked up the gun and pointed it toward one of the officers, according to the DA’s investigation. That officer backed away from the car and the second officer fired one round. The bullet hit Salazar in the abdomen.
Officers said Salazar got out of the car and started screaming. The officers reported ordering him to the ground. Instead of doing so, they say Salazar ran across the parking lot to a nearby gas station. Officers followed and arrested him.
Salazar received medical attention for his injuries following his arrest.
Police searched his car and found two guns, marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, LSD, and other drugs inside the car.
The Johnson County DA said he determined the shooting was justified because the officers told Salazar not to pick up the gun, which he did. Investigators also determined that the situation escalated quickly, and the officer believed that Salazar was going to fire the gun at the other officer when he shot Salazar.
Salazar is charged with aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and other related crimes.