Authorities confirm deputies fired 18 rounds at an armed man.
The investigation continues into a police-involved shooting last Thursday that left a Mount Airy man dead. The Frederick County Bureau of Investigation has confirmed that 18 rounds were fired by Dfc. Charles Zang and Dfc. Kevin Riffle at Daniel Vail, 19. "And I don't want to sensationalize that, but what I want to remind people is the fact that these deputies had a split second decision to use deadly force. The shotgun was leveled directly at them within 8 feet. This was very high stress; this was very close quarters," says Sheriff Chuck Jenkins.
Vail was pronounced dead at the scene by a paramedic. Dfc. Zang and Dfc. Riffle have been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of an investigation.
The two deputies are members of the Special Services Team, which was serving a "high risk" search and seizure warrant at an apartment in the 4800 block of Westwind Drive. They were assisting the Howard County Police Department which was investigating a home invasion robbery on January 8th involving the use of a shotgun and baseball bats.
Sheriff Jenkins says the two deputies felt they had no other choice when confronted with a man armed with a shotgun. "They were forced to do what they had to do," he says. "They reacted as they're trained to react in any deadly force situation which is to shoot until the threat's eliminated." He says the deputies told Vail to put down the weapon, but he didn't comply.
Authorities say Vail did not fire his shotgun.
The FCBI says the injuries on Vail's hands and damage to the shotgun's pump action and stock confirm that Vail was pointing the weapon in the direction of the deputies. Investigators also say the shotgun was loaded with one round in the chamber and another round in the magazine.
Jenkins also says police officers prefer any situation end without the use of deadly force. "We never want to shoot a person. We never want to shoot a person," he says.
The Sheriff says any use of deadly force has an impact on police officers as well as the victims' families. "This is very stressful. It's very emotional. Your adrenalin rushes, and then it's a severe emotional drain afterward. It impacts their lives. It impacts their families. It's just something you really never want to see, never want to experience," says Jenkins.
The Vail family has retained the services of an attorney. Jenkins was asked if he's worried the Sheriff's Office could face a lawsuit over this incident. "I'm sincerely sorry for what happened. My condolences go out to the family on their loss. If a lawsuit comes, a lawsuit comes," he says. "I'm sorry the young man lost his life, but three deputies could have lost their lives."