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Detroit-area officer sued over fatal shooting kills himself

December 3, 2020 GMT

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — A suburban Detroit police officer facing a lawsuit over the fatal shooting of a Black man in 2015 has died, authorities said.

Dearborn Officer Chris Hampton, 33, killed himself last week, according to the Wayne County medical examiner. A funeral was held Wednesday.

Hampton’s death is a “tragic situation,” police Chief Ronald Haddad told the Detroit Free Press.

In December 2015, Hampton was conducting a traffic stop when he recognized Kevin Matthews walking by. Matthews was suspected of trying to steal a beverage from a gas station earlier that day.

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Matthews, 35, was fatally shot at the end of a foot chase and intense physical struggle. The officer said Matthews was a threat because he was grabbing for Hampton’s gun.

But two gun experts who analyzed the evidence believe the 215-pound officer was standing over the 140-pound Matthews and shooting down. Nine bullets struck him. There were no witnesses to the shooting or video of the final moments.

Lawyers for Matthews’ family “raised a genuine issue of material fact regarding the circumstances surrounding the shooting and Officer Hampton’s credibility, which must be resolved” by a jury, U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh said in 2019.

Settlement talks were conducted Wednesday but no deal was reached, according to the court file.

Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy didn’t file charges, saying Hampton was defending himself.