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Bodycam shows lead-up to fatal shooting of mentally ill 27-year-old by Olathe police

Following the announcement of the decision not to pursue criminal charges against police, the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office on Wednesday shared footage from the body camera worn by the officer who fatally shot Brandon Lynch in his Olathe home on New Year’s Eve.

His family says he was in the throes of a mental health crisis when he was killed.

The video, roughly two minutes in length, provides a glimpse of what transpired in the minutes leading up to the deadly shooting. Officers were called to the house by Lynch’s sister, who said he had attacked her and she was bleeding in her mouth.

The clip shared Wednesday begins in the hallway of the home while the officer is speaking with Lynch through the 27-year-old’s open bedroom door.

Lynch, visibly agitated, yells at the officer to leave. He closes the bedroom door and walks farther into his room.

The officer opens the door, telling Lynch to come speak with him. Shortly after that, the officer sees a stun gun in Lynch’s hand, and draws his own Taser.

“Put the stun gun down and come here. You’re under arrest,” the officer says.

Arguing continues as the officer tells Lynch to drop a second weapon — a knife. The officer re-holsters his nonlethal weapon and draws his pistol.

Lynch begins to advance through the bedroom as the officer backpedals down the hallway, repeatedly telling Lynch to drop the weapon. Lynch continues forward as the officer goes up a small staircase leading to the family’s living room.

Once there, other officers join in telling Lynch to drop the weapons. A Taser is fired at him that has no apparent effect.

Standing beside the TV and the front room furniture, facing the officers, Lynch continues to argue about why he would be arrested. Lynch is warned that if he advances without dropping the weapons, he will be shot.

At one point, Lynch tells the officers to shoot him. Then, as he takes two steps forward, Lynch told them a final time: “Get out of my house.”

Three rounds are fired before the video cuts off.

The fatal shooting was reviewed by the Johnson County Officer Involved Critical Incident Investigative Team, a group of detectives and investigators from area law enforcement agencies specifically tasked with conducting investigations of deadly police use of force.

During a Wednesday news conference, District Attorney Steve Howe said his office arrived at the conclusion that the shooting of Lynch was justified under Kansas law. Howe said the officer “properly used deadly force,” noting a butterfly knife and stun gun were found near Lynch’s body.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe speaks during a press conference at the Johnson County Courthouse on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Olathe, Kan. Howe announced an Olathe police officer will not face criminal charges for shooting and killing Brandon Lynch during a call he responded to on Dec. 31, 2022.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe speaks during a press conference at the Johnson County Courthouse on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, in Olathe, Kan. Howe announced an Olathe police officer will not face criminal charges for shooting and killing Brandon Lynch during a call he responded to on Dec. 31, 2022.

The family has been critical of police after calling to get help for Lynch on Dec. 31, saying the 27-year-old needed mental health treatment and police were aware that Lynch suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.

Maria Varnas, Lynch’s mother, previously told The Star her mentally ill son was well-known to Olathe police as officers had been called to their suburban home on multiple occasions over the years. She said at the time that police had previously been able to talk him down calmly and get him the help he needed.

Through their attorneys, the family issued a statement Wednesday saying they were “immensely disappointed” with Howe’s decision not to pursue criminal charges.

“We disagree with the determination that the officer’s use of deadly force was reasonable and will continue to pursue justice on his behalf,” they said in the statement.