Bucks County District Attorney David Heckler has declined to charge a Perkasie police officer in the June 9 death of Michael Marino, the Quakertown-area man who was shot and killed during an alteraction with police near a vacant Sellersville industrial property in which he had allegedly been squatting.
Marino, 26, died after being shot once in the chest by Officer Seth Mumbauer following what Mumbauer described to investigators as a physical struggle on "uneven terrain." Police said Marino had been handcuffed and was resisting their attempts to take him to Grand View Hospital for medical attention.
Perkasie Police Officer Steven Graff told investigators that after Marino had been handcuffed by Mumbauer, he "began to flip out" while Graff was frisking him.
Graff said he "went to the ground" with Marino to physically subdue him and was "knocked backwards down [an] embankment and disoriented." Before Graff got up, he heard a gunshot.
Mumbauer, who said he was kicked in the jaw, told investigators, "I knew we were losing this fight" and "I feared for our safety," explaining that he believed Marino may have broken loose of his handcuffs or been armed.
"I do not find that Officer Mumbauer's belief that he needed to draw and fire his weapon was unreasonable under the circumstances," Heckler wrote in his official statement of findings.
Heckler was critical of "the loss of tactical control" that he said led to Mumbauer needing to use deadly force and suggested that Marino should have promptly been placed in the back of a police car in order to end the officers' "physical interaction" with him.
Additionally, Heckler found, Perkasie Police Sergeant James Rothrock, who had walked some distance from the scene to ask a witness to move back from the area, should have stayed with his two colleagues.
"[The witness] didn't present a threat," Heckler wrote. "He could have been verbally requested to remain at a safe distance."
Ultimately, Heckler said, it was outside his prosecutorial authority to determine whether proper police procedure had been followed.
"The matter which does lie within my responsibility is whether any crimes were committed in connection with Mr. Marino's death," Heckler wrote.
"Under the applicable law his act was therefore a justifiable homicide," Heckler concluded.