Gillette officers cleared in fatal March shooting

GILLETTE — The use of force was deemed justified in the officer-involved shooting that killed a Gillette man in March. No criminal charges will be sought against the two officers involved, according to a review of the incident.

Campbell County Attorney Mitch Damsky reviewed the shooting and concluded that no charges were warranted against Gillette Police Department officers Zach Parker and Cody Geeting, according to the Campbell County Attorney's Office review of the incident.

On March 21, Daren Lee Henle, 57, died of multiple gun shot wounds to the torso after officers were called to the 500 block of East Lincoln Street for the report of shots fired.

In its review, the Campbell County Attorney’s Office determined that both officers were justified in using their weapons, in order to protect themselves and others involved in the incident.

The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation took over the police investigation at the time of the shooting and presented its report to the county attorney’s office May 9. That report and evidence was used for the county attorney’s report that was released Wednesday.

“Zach Parker and Cody Geeting did use deadly force to cause the death of Daren Henle,” Damsky wrote in his review of the incident. “However, the use of deadly force by both Gillette Police Department officers Zach Parker and Cody Geeting was reasonably necessary under the circumstances presented to protect themselves and other officers on scene from serious bodily injury or death.”

The incident began the afternoon of March 21 with a report of an “old man with a gun on his hip” standing in the roadway of the 500 block of East Lincoln Street firing shots towards Brooks Street, according to 911 audio released Wednesday.

Officers arrived and found Henle in the road near a parked pickup truck, carrying a slingshot with a handgun holstered on his belt. Henle also refuse multiple requests to drop the gun and show his hands, according to edited body camera footage as part of a video released by police Wednesday.

After dropping the slingshot he held, Henle took off his coat and faced officers, dropping his gun in the process.

He then picked up the gun and made steps toward officers, who had tactical rifles drawn and continued making requests for him to drop the gun.

Henle then stood before officers while “loading or manipulating the gun,” according to video released by police.

At that point, Geeting fired a Taser shot at Henle, who then raised the gun at officers and was shot multiple times.

The footage ends with officers approaching Henle who made a movement on the ground after being shot. The officers called for EMS and began life-saving measures.

Henle was taken to Campbell County Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Both officers were placed on administrative leave at the time of the incident.

“The use of deadly force in this case was appropriate, both in kind and amount, and was necessary to repel the actual threat of serious bodily injury or death posed by Mr. Henle discharging a brandished firearm,” Damsky wrote in the review.

The Wyoming DCI investigation found that prior to officer arrival, Henle fired at least one bullet that hit a vehicle and another that struck a residence. The investigation also found that Henle was under the influence of meth at the time of the shooting, according to a police statement.

“The officers involved in this case exercised great professional restraint and only acted after Mr. Henle raised and pointed his firearm at them,” Damsky wrote. “They had no choice but to act to defend themselves and the other law enforcement officers present on scene.”