By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Nebraska police officers were justified in the shootings of a Casper woman and Evansville man who later died from their injuries, a preliminary investigation has determined.
Hailey Stainbrook, 30, of Casper, and Christian Alexander, 26, of Evansville, were fleeing from officers in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday morning after allegedly stealing a man’s wallet at a hotel.
As the two were fleeing, an officer crashed his vehicle into theirs, stopping them. The officer then began exchanging gunfire with Alexander.
“The suspect pointing a weapon out the window at a trooper and at the officers when the vehicle came to rest is justifiable for use of deadly force,” Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner said Wednesday during a news conference.
Officers negotiated with Stainbrook for around seven minutes before she pointed a gun at law enforcement, prompting them to shoot at her, the report said.
Stainbrook died at a hospital after surgery over the weekend and Alexander died Tuesday of his injuries. Officer Jesse Hilger, who shot the couple, will be placed on administrative leave until an internal investigation is completed.
“Our preliminary investigation has determined that the officers were justified in using deadly force against both suspects,” Wagner said.
Stainbrook apparently met the man via a social media app on Friday evening and spent some time with him at his hotel.
“With regard to the proceeding days and weeks of the shooting, our condolences go out to both families over the tragic outcome of this event,” Wagner said.
Acting Lincoln Police Chief Brian Jackson said that a grand jury would also look into the officers’ actions during the confrontation with the couple.
“We are fortunate that no law enforcement officers or other members of the public were seriously injured and we’re profoundly grateful for the outpouring of community support,” Jackson said.
Stainbrook and Alexander were suspected in various crimes in the days leading up to their deaths, including stealing vehicles in both Cheyenne and Casper.
An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday for the pair to determine the cause of death.