No Charges for Officer Who Fatally Shot Man in Metro Tunnel

The U.S. Attorney's Office determined there was not enough evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights or local charges.

Charges will not be filed against a police officer who fatally shot a man in the middle of a Metro tunnel last spring, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced Thursday. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office determined there was not enough evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights or local charges against a Metro Transit Police officer in the death of 35-year-old Bobby Gross.

The officer was called to the Potomac Avenue Station in Southeast D.C. on March 12, 2015 for a report of an unauthorized person in the westbound tunnel about 400 feet from the platform.

Metro personnel told police they saw Gross running through the tunnels between the two stations wearing a t-shirt, boxer shorts and no shoes. Gross was reportedly sweating profusely and carrying a large branch. 

The U.S. Attorney's Office says the officer found Gross on an elevated, 21-inch catwalk that runs along the tracks. The officer spoke to Gross, but he did not reply. When the two were about 10 feet from one another, Gross pulled a large branch from behind his back and started walking towards the officer.  

Train marker signs attached to the tunnel's walls prevented the officer from backing up without risking a fall onto the 750-volt third rail, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release Thursday. 

"Drop the stick or I'll shoot you," the officer warned.

The officer fired one round after Gross continued to advance. The U.S. Attorney's Office says the officer fired four additional rounds after Gross sprinted towards the officer and thrust the branch at him. 

Gross fell onto the tracks after the last shot, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The officer was placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says that under federal criminal civil rights laws, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that officer's use of force was excessive and willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right. Accidents, fear, negligence and bad judgement do not establish a criminal violation, prosecutors added. 

The Metro Transit Police Department has 490 officers, according to Metro's website. Metro said the department is unique in that it has authority in three jurisdictions: the District of Columbia and parts of Maryland and Virginia. Officers provide law enforcement on the system's subway and bus networks.

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