Kennewick Police Officer Cleared of Shooting

<p>Officer Shooting</p>

Officer Shooting

A Kennewick police officer who shot an area man last month will return to work next week, after the Benton County Prosecutor decides the shooting was justified.

Kennewick police officer Jeremy Taylor has been cleared in the shooting of Dennis Skellenger, who allegedly pointed a gun at the police last month.

The Special Investigations Unit reports the shooting was justified under department policy and state law.

Skellenger's .38 calliber revolver was sent to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab, and even though it was determined the gun was inoperable. The SIU says Officer Taylor could not have known that at the time, and under threat of harm, was justified in shooting Skellenger to stop him.

The 26-year-old Skellenger was trying to return items bought with a stolen credit card to the Auto Zone on June 14. Empoyees there called 911.

Skellenger then led police on a short chase to the Horse Heaven Hills area, where he pulled out a revolver. That's when Taylor shot him in the chest.

Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller said the officer had no other choice but to fire his weapon at Skellenger. "I concluded that Officer Taylor acted not only appropriately but acted in the only course of action that was available to him given the circumstances."

"It was very clear to me when we did the Firearms Review Board, he fired the one shot and it stopped the threat. That's the reason why one shot was fired and not multiple shots," said Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg.

Police say Skellenger has had 169 run-ins with the police since 2000.

Taylor has been working for the Kennewick PD for more than six years. He's been on paid administrative leave since the incident.

Skellenger is recovering at home from his injuries. He's being charged with third degree assault and eluding police, both felonies.

He's expected in court later this month to face those charges.

Officer Taylor will return to full duty on Monday.