When police are on duty and dealing with potentially armed and dangerous individuals, they typically have just a split second to decide if someone is a genuine threat and how to best diffuse the situation.
In 2016, 2 officers responded to a call about a suspicious man who had been seen taking photos and watching a local school. When the officers arrived, they had reason to believe the man was a danger to them and the public and acted accordingly. The man’s father, however, believes the police jumped to conclusions and it cost his son’s life…
On January 6, 2016, police officers from the Zion Police Department in Zion, Illinois received a call about a suspicious man had been seen lurking around and taking photographs of a local school at around 8:30 in the morning.
Officer Steven Vines and Officer Nathan Hucker were nearby and responded to the call. When they arrived at the school, they found the suspect wearing a black hoodie, which appeared as if it was concealing something underneath like a bulletproof vest…
The suspect was also wearing a black earphone with a talking piece attached. Vines and Hucker pulled their squad car over and called over to the man to come over and talk to them. However, the suspect failed to respond and kept walking.
Getting Some Answers
At that point, Hucker pulled the squad car up right behind the man and turned on the siren, which finally got the man’s attention. When Hucker got out of the car and asked the suspect what he was doing, the man appeared skittish and replied that he was taking photographs for a Waukegan newspaper…
Failure To Cooperate
When the man refused to identify himself or give them a form of ID, Hucker instructed the man to place his arms behind his back. At that moment, the man turned and ran away and Hucker attempted to stop him by shooting the man with his stun gun.
Despite hitting the man’s back, the stun gun had no effect and Hucker was forced to run after him. “After the foot pursuit, a struggle with the offender and officers ensued,” the Lake County Major Crime Task Force said in a statement…
When Vines caught up to his partner and the suspect, he deployed his pepper spray but that also failed to stop the man. When Vine saw the suspect reaching for Hucker’s gun, he felt his and Hucker’s lives were in danger and pulled out his gun. “Officer Vines pulled out his weapon and shot Hollstein three times in the upper shoulder. At the moment he fired, Hollstein still had his hand on Officer Hucker’s weapon,” a police report said.
The suspect, who police later identified as 38-year-old Charles J. Hollstein, was pronounced dead at the scene after the bullets hit his ribs, spine, and both lungs. Once it was clear Hollstein couldn’t be revived, police found that the bulletproof vest he was wearing was actually a homemade vest full of metal inserts…
The officers also found a semi-automatic handgun in a holster on Hollstein’s back, which they realized was actually an Airsoft BB gun painted gold and black to look like a real gun. In addition, police found a folding knife, handcuffs made out of zip ties, 2 cellphones, a smoking pipe, a lighter, and magazines loaded with pellets on Hollstein.
An Investigation Begins
In the wake of the fatal police shooting, Officers Vines and Hucker were placed on paid administrative leave so an investigation could determine if they were justified for using deadly force on Hollstein. At the same time, Hollstein’s father, his only living relative, was contacted and informed about his son’s death…
At the time of Hollstein’s death, the police had assumed that he had been planning some kind of attack on the school and was a threat to their lives. However, when his father, Carl Hollstein, was told about the police’s reason for using deadly force, he insisted they were wrong.
While Carl didn’t know for sure what his son was doing that morning when he decided to go to the school and start taking photos, Carl was sure he wasn’t a threat to anyone’s life. Instead, Carl explained that his adult son was mentally ill…
According to Carl, Hollstein was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a disorder that can cause someone to hallucinate, hear voices, and lose touch with reality when he was in his 20s. “There had been voices I’d never hear,” Carl explained.
A Criminal History
While Hollstein was typically harmless, he had a history of violent outbursts and episodes. Over the years, Hollstein also had a few run-ins with the law and had been charged with attempted drug solicitation, domestic battery, possession of marijuana, aggravated battery to a peace officer, and retail theft…
A Good Guy
“Even though we arrested him, he was always a decent guy,” Frankfort Deputy Police Chief Kevin Keegan said about Hollstein. “He was always decent to us.” Because of his mental illness, Hollstein was typically sent to receive treatment at several outpatient and inpatient facilities.
A Better Path
While receiving treatment, Hollstein seemed to be on a better path. “He was not a troublemaker,” said a woman from a nursing home he had lived in for a while. “He loved outings — bowling, concerts in the park, the zoo, museums — and Halloween.” From 2005 to 2013, Hollstein lived in inpatient treatment facilities and nursing homes but was allowed to live independently with some assistance since 2013…
A Bad Decision
“He was a very understanding, respectful, quiet, very reasonable guy,” Hollstein’s roommate said. “We haven’t had any trouble with him for a long time,” Carl added. “He made a mistake by going over to that school. He never used the best judgment.”
A Deadly Assumption
Eventually, police determined the 2 officers were justified in using lethal force as they had tried every other method to get the situation under control and were afraid for their lives. Carl, however, couldn’t help but wonder if the officers jumped to conclusions…
Blaming Both Sides
“I’m blaming both of them a little bit,” Carl said about the police and his son. “But then again, it’s a judgment call for the police. They’ve only got a split second to make a decision. They probably rushed to judgment. Charlie probably rushed to judgment… The police don’t want to get shot either. I can understand that.”
“It probably would have been better if he’d been living at a nursing home, but who thinks something like this will happen? You can’t read a person’s mind,” Carl said. “With all the violence that’s been going on in this country, places like Sandy Hook and other schools, police are on edge, communities are on edge, people are on edge, and when everyone’s on edge, it’s not too good. The public is the loser. He was and I am.”
Police’s Assumption About Suspect Outside School Cost Him His Life is an article from: LifeDaily