DA: Officer justified in fatally shooting Dover-area man

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

The Northern Regional police officer who fatally shot Dover Township resident Isaiah Christian Green late last year was justified in doing so, according to York County District Attorney Dave Sunday.

Sunday determined the Dec. 28, 2017, shooting was "a lawful use of force" by the officer, according to a news release emailed to media on Thursday, July 5, by the York County District Attorney's Office.

Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel identified the patrolman as Officer Donald Godfrey.

Isaiah Christian Green was fatally shot by a Northern York County Regional police officer on Dec. 28, 2017.

Officers were dispatched to Green's home in the 3800 block of Kings Lane at 1:46 a.m. after a woman called 911 from there saying "we need police," the release states. She then hung up.

Godfrey arrived and heard people yelling inside the garage, according to the release.

He saw Green inside his garage with his head inside the passenger window of a vehicle, the release states.

When Green stood up, Godfrey could see that he was holding an AR-15-type rifle, prompting the officer to order Green to drop the weapon, according to the the release.

"Isaiah Green instead raised the rifle and pointed it directly at the officer such that the officer could see the rifle's muzzle," the release states. "The officer then discharged three rounds from his service pistol, striking Isaiah Green in the chest and shoulder. The third round struck the garage wall."

Green, 21, was pronounced dead at the scene, the York County Coroner's Office has said.

Pending lawsuit: Green's mother, Lana Green, is administrator of his estate and on March 19 filed a "praecipe," or notice of intention to sue, in York County Court.

Unlike an actual lawsuit, a praecipe doesn't list details or allegations. It simply puts the defendant, the court and the public on notice that a civil lawsuit is expected to be filed.

A Northern Regional police officer fatally shot a man at 3818 Kings Lane in Dover Twp. on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017. State police said the victim approached an officer while holding an AR-15 rifle.
(Liz Evans Scolforo photo)

On May 2, the attorney representing Northern Regional Police filed a request asking the prothonotary to issue a ruling that Green's estate file a complaint within 20 days or risk a judgment of nol pros. That means the case would be thrown out.

Prothonotary Pam Lee issued the 20-day ruling on May 4, court documents state. That's the last case entry on record.

Attorney Christopher Boyle, who represents the police department, could not be reached for comment  Thursday, July 5.

Stephen Greecher, the attorney representing the Green estate, declined comment Thursday night.

The civil case is still listed as being active, according to online court records.

The background: State police conducted an independent investigation into the shooting after Northern Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel requested that an outside agency look into the police-involved shooting.

Godfrey was hired by Northern Regional Police in 1990. He was named the department's 2016 officer of the year.

Godfrey returned to regular duty after an internal investigation determined he followed the department's policies and protocols, according to Bentzel.

Green graduated from Dover Area High School in 2015.

While there, he was a running back and inside linebacker for the Eagles' football team. Green rushed 1,161 yards his junior year.

Isaiah Green was fatally shot by police on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in front of his home on Kings Lane in Dover Twp., according to police, who said Green had an AR-15 rifle when he was shot.

As a junior and a sophomore, he earned a first-team selection on the York-Adams Division II Coaches' All-Star Team. He rushed for 622 yards as a sophomore.

At the time of his death, Green was a recent graduate of Kentucky Welding Institute, according to school spokesman Adam Hinton.

"We had nothing but positive experiences in all dealings with Isaiah during his time at our school and while he was in our community," Hinton wrote to The York Dispatch. "He was a solid, respectful young man."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.