Pa. deputy justified in fatal shooting

Deputy Michael Lutz was justified in shooting and killing a man while serving a warrant back in June


By Joe Elias
The Patriot-News

YORK, Pennsylvania — The York County District Attorney's Office has ruled a sheriff's deputy was justified in shooting and killing a man during an encounter in June.

The deputy himself was shot twice in the encounter.

York City police officers and York County sheriff's deputies were called to East Philadelphia Street about 8:45 a.m. on June 9 to attempt to arrest James Allen Nickol, 38, officials said.

Nickol was wanted on charges of escape after reportedly skipping out on his work release.

He had been in York County Prison since February on a burglary charge, officials said.

Deputy Michael Lutz, a member of the office for five years, was in full uniform when he encountered Nickel in the back of the home and was about three feet from him before the altercation began, according to the report issued by the district attorney's office Wednesday.

Lutz told investigators "he saw me right away" and described the look on Nickol's face as "shocked," according to the report.

Lutz also ordered Nickol to show his hands on at least two occasions, but he appeared to be reaching for something instead, officials said.

The following is an excerpt from the report of the events that followed:

"The deputy made the decision to grab (Nickol) with his left hand and attempt to bring the suspect to the ground and cuff him. At that point the suspect turns clock-wise toward Deputy Lutz. Before he even saw the gun, Deputy Lutz was shot in the face. The deputy now describes himself being "in life saving mode." His ears started to ring and his finger moved to the trigger giving the suspect "at least two--right from the hip" hitting the suspect "at least twice." Deputy Lutz then went for the suspect's gun. As he is grabbing for the weapon, the suspect fires again hitting the deputy in the thumb. The deputy backed off and returned fire, hitting the suspect several more times before the suspect fell to the ground and the deputy stopped shooting."

"Realizing he was losing a lot of blood, the deputy dropped his gun and took his glove off to examine his thumb. He describes his pants and shirt soaked in blood. By this time fellow officers had arrived and had him get on the ground with one applying pressure to his facial wound until the EMTs arrived."

The report also includes interviews with other officers at the scene and interviews with several friends and relatives of Nickel.

An ex-girlfriend said Nickol told her, "I love you Kristina, goodbye," during a phone conversation three days before the shooting and after learning that she had a new boyfriend, the report states. Nickel then sent the woman a picture of himself with a gun in his mouth.

Lutz shot Nickol seven times in the torso during the altercation with a .40 caliber semi-automatic Glock, the report states.

Nickol suffered wounds to his lungs, diaphragm, kidney, liver and intestines, according to the report. He was taken to York Hospital, where he later died from his wounds.

"The deputy's actions on each occasion were in response to the deadly conduct of Mr. Nickol. Accordingly, the use of deadly force in response to Mr. Nickol's conduct was justified and no criminal action is warranted," according to the report.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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