Related topics

Mistaken Identity Caused Police Officer To Kill Man

August 18, 1988

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) _ Police investigating a burglar alarm at night shot and killed a man in his home who jumped an officer after mistaking him for an intruder, a lawyer for the officers said.

″It was a tragic series of accidents,″ attorney Michael Vincent said Wednesday. ″The preliminary indications are that this was a case of mistaken identity by the homeowner and mistaken identity by the police officers.″

Leonard Bontekoe, 31, was killed Sunday night after he apparently mistook Ypsilanti police Officer Eugene Rush for a burglar, jumped on him and grappled for his gun, Vincent said. The struggle prompted Officer Ted Justice to shoot in defense of his partner.

Vincent is representing both Justice and Rush, who were placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.

The officers were dispatched to Bontekoe’s house to investigate a burglar alarm that went off during a thunderstorm Sunday night, Vincent said. Rush entered the home through an open door and was jumped by Bontekoe.

″He was knocked backward out of the door, while this man grappled for the officer’s gun,″ Vincent said. ″Officer Justice fired in defense of himself and in defense of his partner.″

It was unclear whether Rush, who was dressed in a black raincoat, and Justice, in a yellow rain slicker, had identified themselves as police.

Police have said Bontekoe, who was nearsighted, wasn’t wearing his glasses when he saw a man come through his back door.

According to normal procedures, police going into an unlocked door during a suspected burglary wouldn’t announce their presence and would go in with guns drawn, police said.

Update hourly