Officers Named In Binghamton Shooting

By Kiersten Mathieu

Officers Named In Binghamton Shooting

July 22, 2010 Updated Jan 13, 2006 at 8:45 PM EDT

A man who was shot and killed by police, was shot in the back. But, Binghamton Police say the officers had no choice. The man, who was mentally ill, was trying to stab one of them with a kitchen knife.

The police department has finished its own investigation into the shooting, and released the names of the three officers involved.

They are David Bidwell, who's worked a year on the force; Lieutenant John Chapman, a 22-year veteran; and Officer Charles Harder, with 11 years experience and a member of the SWAT Team.

"This is not a normal occurrence in the city of Binghamton," said Chief John Butler.

Butler says it's rare that Binghamton police use deadly force.

But on Jan. 3, 56-year-old Peter Sablich of Binghamton was shot by three officers at the corner of Main and Crandall.

Sablich had a knife.

"The officers were jockeying for position at that point. One of the officers was toward the back and shot the victim as he was trying to stab officer Bidwell," said Butler.

After using other methods to stop Sablich, nine shots were fired, four hit Sablich.

Police say the fatal shot came through his back, piercing his heart and lungs.

Police don't know which officer fired the fatal shot.

They're still waiting on ballistics tests.

Police do have a videotape of the struggle and shooting that took place here at Crandall and Main.

Horizon Federal Credit Union has a surveillance camera outside, and it was recording the night Sablich was shot.

The Broome County District Attorney says a decision on whether to release the tape to the media won't be made until after he conducts his own investigation.

D.A. Gerald Mollen will determine whether the use of deadly force was justified.

But Mollen says he sympathizes with what police face on the job everyday.

"Mr. Sablich is dead in the middle of Main Street. These officers, as you can imagine, when a police officer goes onto his job, the last thing he wants to do is to have to make that decision, ‘Should I pull the trigger on my weapon,’" said Broome County District Attorney Gerald Mollen.

Mollen will now decide whether to issue his own report on the shooting, or take the case to a grand jury for review.

Either way, it could take several weeks before there is a final determination.

Police have determined Lt. Chapman fired five shots, Officer Harder three shots, and Bidwell fired one shot.

Chief Butler says all three officers were either assigned to desk duty or took time off to collect their thoughts after the shooting.

Earlier this week, all three officers were put back on active duty.

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