Investigation of officer-involved fatal shooting in Danville awaiting 'one thing'

Investigation of officer-involved fatal shooting in Danville awaiting 'one thing'

DANVILLE — An Illinois State Police lieutenant said the agency's investigation into the officer-involved fatal shooting of a Danville man in June is waiting on "one thing."

It has been more than three months since Danville officers fatally shot DaNathe M. Gulliford, 34, on June 12.

State police were called in to investigate the shooting. Lt. Thomas Houser said Friday that the case is still open, and once investigators' work is complete, their report will be forwarded to Vermilion County State's Attorney Jacqueline Lacy for review.

"There's one thing we are basically waiting on," said Houser, head of the Zone 5 investigations unit based in Champaign.

He would not elaborate on what that was.

"No, I'm not going to say it. As soon as we get it back, Ms. Lacy will be able to answer questions regarding the case," said Houser, adding that they want to do a thorough job. "It just, unfortunately, takes time."

Lacy said "no comment" when asked about the investigation earlier this month and did not respond to additional requests for comment this week.

Danville police released a written statement June 12 describing the incident, which they said began with a 911 call.

According to the statement, at 1:54 a.m., a dispatcher got a call for a domestic disturbance at a residence in the 600 block of Sherman Street. A man — later identified as Mr. Gulliford — reportedly threatened a 39-year-old woman and 43-year-old man with a gun, and both received some type of non-life-threatening injury.

The statement said two third-shift officers responding to the call — a veteran and a trainee — spotted Mr. Gulliford's vehicle a few streets away on Harmon Street and initiated a traffic stop. The statement said they repeatedly ordered him to exit his vehicle with his hands showing, but he didn't comply.

The report said when Mr. Gulliford finally exited the vehicle, he was holding a gun. At some point, the officers fired upon him, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The officers, who weren't injured, were put on paid leave.

This week, Danville Public Safety Director Larry Thomason said the two officers are on paid administrative duty, which means they are doing desk work rather than working patrol shifts. He said it will stay that way "until we get some resolution to the case," indicating that that will come after Lacy reviews the state police report.

Thomason has not released the names of the officers, who are both white. Mr. Gulliford was black.

City officials and leaders of the local black community were concerned about the reaction to the incident in the wake of several high-profile officer-involved fatal shootings around the country. But a group of local black leaders, including NAACP chapter President Ed Butler and some ministers, called for patience soon afterward, and outside of reports from aldermen of heightened tension in the week after it happened, the public has mostly quietly awaited the results of the investigation.

About four days after the incident, three black aldermen publicly asked that police release any dash-cam video, including audio, of the shooting immediately to resolve those "heightened tensions." Authorities have refused to do that and have denied Freedom of Information Act requests from The News-Gazette and other entities seeking their release, citing the fact that the investigation is ongoing.

Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said he greatly appreciates the patience that has been shown so far.

"We have continued to remind members of the community that we are allowing the state police to do their investigation. We all agree that we want it to be a very thorough investigation," said Eisenhauer, who added that the city would not consider releasing any evidence until after Lacy's office reviews the state police report. "I think people understand there's a process in place, and we are following the process, and the process needs to occur in a way that's thoroughly complete."

In 2009, it took state police about a month to finish an investigation into the April 6 fatal shooting of 23-year-old Oluwatofunmi O. Kaiyewu along Interstate 74 near Oakwood. By May 5 of that year, then-Vermilion County State's Attorney Randy Brinegar had the 320-page report, and at a May 28 news conference, he announced that police acted appropriately in the incident, which was not caught on the dash cam of the lone squad car equipped with one at that time.

Mr. Kaiyewu, a Texas native and medical student at SIU in Carbondale, led police on a three-county chase that started in Villa Grove, where he fled after an encounter with an officer, and ended in a confrontation with police from multiple agencies. The state police report said Mr. Kaiyewu, who was wielding a machete, was shot four times, and three officers had fired their weapons.

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