The district attorney ruled a June road-rage shooting in York was justifiable.
By MIKE HOOVER
Daily Record/Sunday News
Brian P. Fentiman used justifiable force when he shot and killed a 42-year-old Hellam Township man after a road rage encounter June 27 in York, according to the York County District Attorney.
After reading the statements of nearly 10 witnesses, York County District Attorney Stan Rebert said he is convinced the victim, Douglas Allen Need, was drunk and out of control when he assaulted a woman and threatened to shoot others in the 400 block of East Philadelphia Street.
Fentiman fired because he was concerned Need would seriously hurt or kill someone, Rebert said.
"This guy (Fentiman) was between a rock and a hard place. He had no option. He was concerned about the safety of others," Rebert said.
Witnesses consistently told York City Police investigators that Need was the aggressor and that Fentiman gave him fair warning to stop, including firing one warning shot.
He also shot Need in the leg in an attempt to disable him but hit Need's femoral artery, causing him to bleed out, Rebert said. Need died at York Hospital.
Fentiman, 50, who lives in the Allentown area, was forced to make a quick decision between retreating and risking that others could have been hurt or killed, or firing at Need, Rebert said.
"He (Fentiman) was very upset. He regrets what happened. He knew he had to do what he did but didn't relish the thought of killing someone," Rebert said.
Rebert said his decision to rule the shooting justified came down to what was reasonable under the circumstances.
Although Need was not armed, Rebert said, Fentiman could not see his right hand.
"He (Need) said he had a weapon and threatened to shoot people. I don't believe you have to wait to see a gun," Rebert said.
"You can second-guess this until the cows come home. But he was confronted with a dangerous, possibly lethal situation, and acted appropriately."
Witnesses told police Need was driving wildly and cut off a car with two women and a baby inside. Need and the two women stopped their cars and argued, police said. Need struck one of the women and a family member who came to her aid. Need yelled at the woman and threatened the lives of others.
When Fentiman, a passerby, intervened, Need charged him, forcing Fentiman to fire a warning shot and yelling for Need to step back, police said. When Need kept charging, Fentiman shot him in the leg, police said.
Fentiman's attorney, Kurt Blake, said Fentiman fired the warning shot as Need charged him from about 4 feet away. He fired a second shot into Need's leg as the man continued to advance and grabbed Fentiman's shirt, ripping off a button, he said.
"He (Fentiman) was in a no-win situation," Blake said.
Fentiman, who has family in York County and investment properties in the city, was legally armed and cooperated fully with investigators, Blake said.
Blake said Fentiman intervened because he couldn't stand seeing a defenseless woman "manhandled" and wanted to make sure she and those who tried to help her were not harmed.
Fentiman has needed counseling since the shooting, he said.
"He wished he wasn't put in that situation, but he did what he needed to do," Blake said.
York City Police forwarded their investigative findings Friday to Rebert.
Lt. Ron Camacho, who heads the detective bureau, said witnesses clearly indicated Fentiman had no choice. Camacho said he thought Rebert made the "right decision."
"Need's actions were dangerous to say the least. They were very concerned about their safety," Camacho said.