DA: Police justified in killing of Reading man

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Nearly two weeks after a man was shot and killed by police in Berks County, officials ruled the shooting justified. (WPVI)

Nearly two weeks after a man was shot and killed by police in Berks County, officials have ruled the shooting justified.

They say officers were staring down a gun with a drunk man holding the trigger, leaving one policeman no choice, but to open fire.

"The officer was justified in his use of force," Berks County DA John Adams said Wednesday afternoon.

It all started when Arturo Segarra was hosting a cookout for family and friends, including six children in Reading.

When one of his relatives entered an alleyway to smoke a cigarette, police say Segarra's neighbor, 62-year-old Michael Stoudt, came outside and pointed a sawed-off shotgun in his direction. Stoudt ordered him to put out the cigarette in what witnesses describe as a profanity-laced tirade.

Through translation, Segarra says, "I came outside to see what was going on, heard him yelling, saw the shotgun. Now the kids are crying. I sent everyone inside and called 911."

Police quickly arrived and ordered Stoudt to drop the weapon.

"Stoudt failed to comply with these commands and instead started to raise his arm and point the sawed-off shotgun in the direction of the officers," Adams said.

That's when one of the responding officers opened fire killing Stoudt.

The ensuing investigation determined that the shotgun, while operational, was not loaded.

It was also determined that Stoudt was intoxicated with a blood-alcohol content of .306.

Segarra says he is just glad that the officer has been vindicated.

"I think the police officer did his job. What choice did he have? He didn't know the gun was empty. Nobody knew," Segarra said.

Meanwhile, Stoudt's daughter Stephanie Baxter released a statement by way of the DA's office.

Describing her father, it reads in part, "He was a troubled man, he was a hard man, but he wasn't a bad man...I'm sorry for the children that were scared...I'm sorry for the officer that had to take a life...Most of all I'm sorry I'll never get to say 'bye'... I love you so much, Dad."

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