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Forest Service Officer Cleared in Shooting

Forest Service Officer Cleared in Shooting
February 17
14:28 2015

Forest-Service SMALLFlagstaff, AZ; The criminal investigation of USFS Law Enforcement Officer who fatally shot a suspect who attacked him in the Blue Ridge area on September 19, 2014 has been completed and the officer will not face charges.  Evidence collected during the investigation showed that USFS Officer Andrew Pederson was acting within his lawful duty when he came in contact with sixty-six year old Courtney James Van Riper. Investigation of the events that led to the shooting death of Van Riper indicated that the officer was defending himself during the shooting incident.

Following the shooting death of Van Riper, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office conducted the criminal investigation into the officer involved shooting death of Courtney Van Riper.  The investigation was forwarded to the Coconino County Attorney’s Office who reviewed the case. After reviewing the evidence, the Coconino County Attorney’s Office completed its report that no charges would be filed against Pederson.  In their report, the County Attorney’s Office found that the evidence shows that Pederson was discharging a lawful duty when he encountered sixty-six year old Courtney James Van Riper.

The evidence shows that during the encounter, Van Riper produced a large can of pepper spray which he pointed and sprayed at the face of the officer.  The evidence also indicates that Pederson’s actions of firing multiple rounds at the suspect were based on the reasonable belief that Van Riper might take control of his service weapon once he was incapacitated by the spray. The County Attorney’s report cited Arizona Revised Statutes 13-410(C)(1) which permits law enforcement to use deadly physical force in  self-defense.

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