An officer involved shooting of a 37-year-old Racine man that was reportedly suicidal was “legal, justified and necessary,” wrote Racine County District Rich Chiapete in a letter to Racine Police Chief Art Howell.

Rajko Utvic was shot and killed by a Racine Police officer on July 7. When Racine police officers arrived, Utvic was brandishing a knife and not only refused to put it down but threatened police. One of the officers shot Utvic, and he later died of his injuries.

Chiapete reviewed the incident saying that “overwhelming evidence” supported the actions of Racine Police.

Chiapete wrote:

Mr. Utvic bears total culpability for this deadly force confrontation. The officers attempted lesser force options, but were ultimately faced with a situation that placed their own lives at risk. This was corroborated by witness statements, by the physical evidence on the scene, by the autopsy reports and by the 911 call.

Chiapete acknowledged that the matter has been difficult for Utvic’s family and the officers involved in the shooting, but then later pointed to the evidence that supported his assessment. The letter detailed how Utvic had taken 100 tablets of Ibuprofen, had been known to be “armed and dangerous,” and that he had already cut himself and was bleeding when police arrived.

Ordered to drop the weapon, Utvic didn’t comply with the officers orders. Chiapete pointed out that the officers would have been justified at this point to use lethal force, they continued to try to use lesser force.

Both officers deployed their tasers. This had little or no effect. Mr. Utvic continued to charge officers with his knife in hand. He was in very close proximity to the officers when lethal force became the only viable option. Mr. Utvic left officers with no other alternatives.

Racine paramedics attempted advanced life saving measures, but Utvic was pronounced dead at Wheaton Franciscan St. Mary’s.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.

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