KINGMAN - The Coconino County Attorney's Office, the outside agency that was looking into the fatal shooting of a Kingman man by a Mohave County Sheriff's Office deputy, said it will not pursue charges, effectively closing the case.
The independent analysis by the office found that Jeff Davis, a deputy with MCSO for 3½ years, was using justifiable self-defense when he shot and killed 30-year-old William Bonnee shortly after midnight on Sept. 4.
Davis was responding to the 3100 block of Thompson after a homeowner called to say that a man wielding a 6-foot long metal pipe had broken into her home after beating her dogs in the backyard and was chasing her and her 15-year-old son. The boy, who had been hit in the head with the pipe several times and required stitches, had chased the man, later identified as Bonnee, outside of the home by the time Davis arrived on scene.
Neighbors of the woman interviewed after the shooting said Bonnee swung the pipe at the deputy at least three times as Davis continued taking steps backward before and during the actual shooting. Another neighbor who heard but did not see the shooting said he heard Davis yell, "Do not approach me, I will shoot," twice just before the shots were fired.
Davis himself told a Kingman Police officer who interviewed him after the shooting that Bonnee came at him holding the pipe in a "baseball-style stance" and that he then brought it up over his head as though he was going to swing at Davis. Davis said he warned Bonnee that he would shoot and began firing at him with his service-issued Glock 9mm when he was around 20 feet away.
Law enforcement officials often follow what is referred to as the "21-foot" rule, which is the distance in which an officer has enough time to recognize the threat of someone charging at them and draw his weapon to respond.
A fourth witness who spoke to authorities several days after the shooting said Bonnee did not have anything in his hands when he approached the deputy. The Coconino Sheriff's Office said the man's statement conflicted with those given by two neighbors and the homeowner and noted that the man knows Bonnee's wife.
"None of the other witnesses have any preexisting relationship with Bonnee or his family. (This witness) does," the office said.
The attorney's office concluded that with the exception of that witness's statements, all the other statements taken from witnesses along with Bonnee's unprovoked attack on the dogs, the homeowner and her son, corroborated that Bonnee was acting aggressively and violently without apparent provocation.
"Taking all the circumstances together, Davis has a very strong argument that (use of deadly force by law enforcement) would apply here, justifying Davis's actions in self-defense," the office said.
The Coconino County Attorney's report also paints a clearer picture of Bonnee's behavior and state of mind leading up to the shooting. According to the report, Bonnee had been drinking with friends at a house in the 3200 block of Snavely as early as 6 p.m. that day. He and several friends went to another residence that belonged to some friends with whom they had recently had a falling out with to "clear the air," the report says.
One of the homeowners at the second home described Bonnee as being "drunker than a skunk," and said that Bonnee was at one point intentionally touching an electrified dog fence. Another acquaintance said Bonnee was drunker than they had ever seen him.
Authorities received a call shortly after 11 p.m. about a disturbance at the second house. Deputies talked to both the homeowner and Bonnee, whom they noted was heavily intoxicated, but was not cited or arrested.
According to friends, Bonnee went back to the Snavely home angry that the person at the other home wasn't interested in mending the relationship. One friend said Bonnee left the Snavely home after shedding his shirt, belt and wallet with the possible intent of returning to the second home. Another friend said they thought Bonnee left to walk around the block.
After leaving the Snavely house, Bonnee was next seen in the 3100 block of Thompson Street, the home in front of where he would ultimately be shot.
Bonnee's blood alcohol level was later determined by the Medical Examiner's Office to be .201. The medical examiner also said it did not find evidence that any of the five gunshots that hit Bonnee were fired at close range.
Davis returned to full duty Sept. 26. Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan said he's not surprised by the final determination of self-defense.
"It is always reassuring to request an outside review of the circumstances besides doing our own use-of-force review," he said. "The determination that Deputy Davis acted with lawful authority was not only the results of our review but also the Coconino County Attorney's office."