A 26-year-old man is recovering after he was shot by police in Newark.
Interim Newark police Chief Barry Connell said the man provoked officers to shoot him.
According to Newark police, 26-year-old Dustin James Pierson was walking down 3rd Street with what appeared to be a gun and a beer shortly before midnight.
Officers said they then called for backup and confronted Pierson.
“They ordered him to drop the firearm, he became verbally combative with them and at one point he threw the beer into the middle of the street,” Connell said. “He continued to be verbally combative with them, at one point he actually raised the firearm, forcing our officers to return fire.”
Police say Pierson raised the hand that was holding the gun, prompting officers to fire, Chief Connell said.
According to Licking County Prosecuting Attorney Kenneth Oswalt, the gun was later determined to be a realistic-looking BB gun.
Newark Sergeant John Brnjic, who joined the force in 1999 and Officer Jon Bell, who joined in 1998, fired several times at Pierson hitting him once in the hip.
Soon after shooting him, the chief said officers started first aid on Pierson until medics came.
“Obviously our job is to protect lives, even if it is a suspect,” Connell said.
The shooting scene is just down Canal Street from police headquarters and was caught on surveillance cameras, but the chief said that is still part of the investigation and will not be released yet.
Court documents from both Licking and Coshocton Counties show Pierson went to prison for nearly three years after two felony theft convictions
Chief Connell said an investigator will turn evidence over to the Licking County Prosecutor’s Office.
Newark police have had four officer-involved shootings in the last six months, and Chief Connell said he cannot explain why.
Pierson was taken to OSU’s Wexner Medical Center to be treated for his injuries.
The involved officers are on paid administrative leave while the investigation continues.