Prosecutor: Troy officer 'had no choice' in fatal shooting

James David Dickson
The Detroit News


Robert Issa, the 23-year-old Troy man killed in a confrontation with Troy police in April, lunged at officers with two knives, had stopped taking his medication, and "believed President Trump was coming to get him" before being shot five times and dying in what the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office concluded is a case of justifiable homicide.

Officer Andrew Lane, who fired the fatal shots, was cleared in the matter, as the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office found that the shooting was a "lawful use of force and was in defense of the officer and their fellow officers at the scene."

Issa's death is the first officer-involved shooting in Troy in more than two decades. Police chief Gary Mayer, in Monday's statement, called Issa's death "tragic" and said it has had a "profound impact on the family, our department, and our community."

On April 9, Troy police responded to the 4900 block of Saddle Brook Court, off East Long Lake, just before 7:25 a.m.

Police said the family called 911 after the man was being “assaultive."

Jones said a marked police car arrived at the scene, followed by an unmarked car.

By the time police arrived, the man’s family had locked themselves in bedrooms to keep safe. They told police he was “screaming, being violent, and hitting family members,” according to a Troy Police Department update.

April 9 was the fourth 911 run to that home since July 2017, police said at the time.

On Monday, the sheriff's office, which handled the investigation, told the rest of the story.

Police responded to the home when Robert's brother Christopher called 911, telling police Robert was having a "bi-polar episode," that he was "screaming, yelling, and hitting people."

Christopher said Robert was off his medication, and behaved this way when he was off his medication. At the request of the 911 operator, the family locked Robert out of the home.

What police would learn later is that Robert had pushed his mother, Mirna, to the floor and thrown a chair at his father, Fadi.

After the shooting, Fadi Issa, told police his son had been diagnosed as bi-polar the previous summer. On July 19, July 22, and Dec. 30, Troy police made runs to the Issa home due to aggressive, confrontational behaviors that concerned the family. 

During the Dec. 30 incident, which started when Robert had "gone berserk," believing his family had taken away his marijuana, father Fadi and brother Christopher said they feared Robert, who stood 5 feet 11 inches tall, and locked their doors at night for fear of what he'd do.

The morning of April 9, Officer Lane heard the dispatch regarding troubles on Saddle Brook and responded.

Lt. Andrew Satterfield arrived soon after, in plain clothes and an unmarked pickup, which had lights and sirens installed. Satterfield watched Issa pace back and forth and believed him to be talking to himself. 

Then he saw Issa put his hands in his pockets and pull two knives out, one in each hand, and "ran the blades together as if to sharpen them." Then he ran toward Officer Lane's marked police car.

Capt. Robert Redmond then arrived at the scene, pulling up behind Lane, but, like Satterfield, he wore plain clothes and drove an unmarked vehicle. Lane was the only policeman of the three at the scene to have a Taser.

As Issa ran toward the police car, Satterfield tried to distract him by turning on lights and sirens in his pickup, which worked, as Issa turned his attention toward the truck, a long knife in his right hand, a box cutter in his left.

Lane and Redmond ordered Issa to put the knives down, and Lane pulled his handgun and pointed it at Issa, to which Issa responded: "Shoot me, shoot me."

Satterfield and Redmond told Lane to use his Taser, which he did, "but it did not penetrate his clothing and was not effective," the letter reads, and seemed to only agitate Issa further. 

Issa turned back toward Lane, still with knives in each hand, and charged toward him. Lane fired five shots, at least three of which struck Issa: one in his head, one in his right shoulder, and one in his left hand. 

Medics transported Issa to Troy Beaumont Hospital, but he was pronounced dead at 8:07 a.m.

"Officer Lane had no other choice but to use fatal force against Robert Issa in order to protect himself. Capt. Redmond and Lt. Sutterfield," reads the letter, written by Jason Pernick, chief of the warrants division for the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office. 

"Despite the imminent threat...Lane did not immediately resort to the use of fatal force, although he could have lawfully done so," the letter continues. "Lane had no choice but to open fire and continue firing, until the deadly threat posed by (Issa) ended when he was incapacitated and fell to the ground."

The letter concludes: "The death of Robert Issa was therefore a justifiable homicide."