By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Natrona County District Attorney has found that four Casper police officers were justified in shooting and killing an Evansville man during an 18-hour standoff with police in March.
Casper police officials announced the findings on Tuesday. Department spokeswoman Rebekah Ladd declined to provide additional comment to Cowboy State Daily.
“The question to be answered is did law enforcement use reasonable self-defense,” Natrona County DA Daniel Itzen wrote in a June 3 letter to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation. “In this case, it was Clutter who shot first each and every time the officers responded.”
“Officers talked about how close the bullets were. In fact, one person’s boots had bullet holes in them. It was painfully obvious that Clutter wanted to kill police officers,” Itzen continued. “All alternatives to end this situation peacefully were tried. It was Clutter’s actions, and his actions alone, that led to this result. Each of these officers have a legitimate self-defense claim or a defense of another claim.”
Police became involved in a stand-off with Blaine Clutter, 29, on March 18 after Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) agents attempted to serve the man with an arrest warrant.
Clutter shot at the agents then barricaded himself in his Evansville home.
Several nearby law enforcement agencies responded to assist the DCI team as the situation grew increasingly dangerous. Clutter was firing at the officers and into the surrounding neighborhood.
The standoff between Clutter and police lasted about 18 hours as officers negotiated with him and used non-lethal tactics in attempt to get him to leave the residence.
In the early hours of March 19, four Casper officers returned fire at Clutter after he shot at them, again. It was during these final shots that Clutter was believed to have been fatally wounded by an officer’s bullet.
An autopsy investigation by the Natrona County Coroner’s Office later confirmed this.
No body camera footage of the final shootout between police and Clutter was captured
, due to the officers’ camera batteries wearing down during the 18-hour standoff, according to the police department.
The four officers involved in the standoff have since returned to duty.
Anthony Pete Hernandez has identified himself on social media over as Clutter’s father and apologized to the law enforcement involved in the standoff.
“I want to say sorry to all Law Enforcement Officers for my son actions during that stand off with him on Friday and Saturday,” he wrote on Facebook after the shooting. “I’m thankful to God he didn’t wound or kill any of you well you all where doing your job. I talked to some very good hearted people in the Natrona County Sheriff Department that feeled [sic] me in on how it when down and ended.
“I’m very grateful you all tried your hardest to have him give his self up and surrender even though he was trying to hurt you all. May God always protect you all sincerely!” Anthony Hernandez continued. “My son’s acting was way wrong no matter what mind set he was in. He was my son I will miss him. People that need help get it please.”