LARNED — The Kansas Bureau of Investigation has found that a Pawnee County deputy was justified in firing his weapon at a suspect earlier this year, Pawnee County Attorney Douglas McNett said. The deputy will not be charged with a crime.
McNett released an official statement on Thursday, based on communication he had with the KBI.
“On February 17, 2020, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation presented its findings to the Pawnee County Attorney’s Office following a formal investigation regarding an early morning incident of January 18, 2020, involving a Pawnee County Sheriff’s Deputy,” McNett stated. “Pursuant to protocol, the Pawnee County Sheriff requested the KBI handle the investigation due to the deputy having discharged his duty weapon.”
Alejandro Alvarado-Avina, 21 of Lincoln, Nebraska, was the passenger in a vehicle that had been stopped on U.S. 56 for an alleged traffic violation at approximately 1:30 a.m. on January 18. The deputy advised the two occupants of the vehicle that he intended to search the vehicle due to an odor of marijuana. Alvarado-Avina reportedly ran as the deputy attempted a routine pat-down of him. The deputy fired shots but missed Alvardo-Avina, who fled on foot, crossing the highway and running south from the area. The suspect was arrested by the KBI without incident in rural Pawnee County shortly after daybreak on January 18, about six hours after the initial incident.
“After reviewing the dash cam video at real time speed, and taking into consideration the information available to the deputy at the time, it is my professional opinion the deputy was entitled under current Kansas law to use deadly force for the purposes of self-defense,” McNett stated. “First, the deputy had a sincere and honest belief that his life was in danger and that it was necessary to use deadly force to defend himself. Secondly, a reasonable person in the deputy’s circumstances could have reasonably perceived the use of deadly force was necessary. Accordingly, charges are not appropriate against the deputy regarding the discharge of his duty weapon on January 18, 2020.”
No charges will be filed against the driver. Based on the KBI investigation, a three-count criminal complaint has been filed against Alvarado-Avina. He is charged with criminal possession of a firearm by a felon (Glock .40 caliber handgun), a severity level 8 nonperson felony; interference with law enforcement (providing a false name to the deputy), a Class A nonperson misdemeanor; and possession of marijuana, a Class B nonperson misdemeanor.
Alvarado-Avina is currently being held in the Finney County Jail, where he had an outstanding warrant for aggravated assault. A first appearance in Pawnee County District Court has not yet been scheduled.