The Venango County District Attorney’s office has ruled there will be no prosecution in the shooting death of an Oil City woman by a city police officer in July, and the Pennsylvania State Police have pronounced their investigation complete.
A State Police statement issued Tuesday afternoon indicates that District Attorney Marie Veon has determined that the actions of the officers who responded to the incident in which the victim was involved were justifiable.
The statement detailed the chronology of events in a fatal incident at a home on the 400-block of Central Avenue in Oil City at about 9:00 PM on the evening of July 16 in which 68 year-old Marilyn Peterson died of a gunshot wound to the chest. In addition to recounting previously released information that officers had responded to a call concerning a distraught woman, and that the woman had been brandishing a knife, the statement reveals that the first two responding officers had been forced to try to subdue Peterson with pepper spray. The woman was able to shield her eyes, and according to the release, continued to advance toward the officers, becoming increasingly more agitated and “waving the knife out in front of her in a slashing motion.”
In the process, the two officers called for back-up, and when a third officer arrived on the scene, he somehow dislodged a wooden barrier that had been placed across a lower section of a doorway. The initial responders say they eventually backed up into the barrier, with the woman still approaching with her knife, and the pepper spray now being blown into the officers’ faces by a fan inside the woman’s home.
The statement purports that Peterson moved to within two feet of the officers, still brandishing the knife, and one of the officers shot her once in the “right upper chest area.” Paramedics were called, and Peterson was pronounced dead less than two hours later at UPMC-Northwest.
Oil City’s police chief, Robert Wenner, requested the investigation into the incident be undertaken by the State Police. Oil City residents have been insisting for more than four months now that an official statement regarding the investigation be released.