NEWS

Man with sword shot by police

Sharon Woods Harris, Elyse Russo and Leslie Williams

Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll released the name this morning of an East Peoria man who was shot and killed by an East Peoria police officer in the line of duty.

Samuel Craft, 48, of 116 Sun Valley Court, East Peoria, was shot at about 6 p.m. as he reportedly ignored warnings by police officers to stop and drop a sword and knife. Craft allegedly threatened officers with the sword and knife as he walked toward them.

He was pronounced dead at 8 p.m. in the emergency room at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, said Ingersoll. Ingersoll said Craft suffered multiple gunshot wounds.

Tazewell County State’s Attorney Stewart Umholtz said this morning that the case of an officer-involved shooting in East Peoria will be handled in the same manner as such cases in the past.

The Illinois State Police is investigating the use of a deadly force fatal shooting.

“Once (the Illinois State Police) complete the investigation of whether or not the use of deadly force was justified I will release a very detailed report,” said Umholtz.

Umholtz said there have been a few officer-involved shootings over the past several years. A Tazewell County Sheriff’s deputy in September 2002 shot and killed Chad L. Rains while Rains was in the act of slashing the throat of a 15-month-old girl at Grandview Mobile Home Park in rural East Peoria. A second officer-involved shooting occurred in Creve Coeur in May 2007, when a man carrying a shotgun refused to surrender and was fatally shot by a Central Illinois Emergency Response Team member.

East Peoria Police Chief Ed Papis said Tuesday evening that officers responded to the apartment complex shortly after 6 p.m. when a neighbor called 9-1-1 about a suicidal male.

“We were confronted by a male individual armed with a sword and knife and he came at the officers,” Papis said from the scene. “He would not listen to officers to stop and drop his weapons. He kept coming at officers.”

When officers’ repeated demands were ignored, Papis said officers “had no alternative” but to shoot the man.

The Sun Valley Apartment complex, the scene of the fatal shooting, was squared off with yellow crime scene tape as authorities began their investigation. Detective Sgt. Shannon Swearingen said Illinois State Police were called. Because of the involvement of the East Peoria officers, the State Police will conduct the investigation to ensure impartiality.

The names of the officers and shooting details have not been released. The standard procedure is that officers involved in such cases are put on administrative leave for a time.

“All we heard was three shots,” said Michael Hampton, who lives in an apartment in the complex.

He added that when he looked outside to see what happened, the police already were there.

“We’ve never really had any trouble in this area before,” Hampton said. “Everyone has been good neighbors.”

Pekin Daily Times