The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office has cleared a Vernon Hills police officer who shot and killed a man with an air rifle during a domestic disturbance call in September.
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim released his final report on Friday, saying that Officer Tadd Spencer was justified after he shot 34-year-old Randy Rausch.
Officer Spencer was called on September 15 at 2 a.m. to the 100 block of Marimac Lane in Vernon Hills to assist a citizen, later identified as Rausch, who needed help retrieving his belongings from the house.
Officer Spencer was familiar with Rausch, and had responded several times on previous occasions to his home, Nerheim said.
“The Vernon Hills Police Department would, at times, aid Mr. Rausch in getting his personal items out of his house. Occasionally, Mr. Rausch’s girlfriend would lock him out of the house or prevent him from accessing his belongings,” Nerheim said in his report.
Officer Spencer was also aware that Rausch had tried committing suicide previously, Nerheim added. When Officer Spencer arrived at Rausch’s residence on September 15, he found a side door to the garage slightly ajar.
He found Rausch sitting in a chair in the garage with a rifle on his lap and his right hand on the gun. Officer Spencer drew his service weapon and told Rausch to drop the gun more than 10 times but Rausch refused.
“What are you going to do?” Rausch said twice to Officer Spencer.
“At one point, Mr. Rausch placed both of his hands on the rifle and, with a two-handed grip, lowered the barrel of the rifle toward Officer Spencer,” Nerheim said in his report.
“Officer Spencer believed that lethal force was the only recourse available to prevent the loss of innocent lives. Officer Spencer aimed and fired nine shots until Mr. Rausch dropped the rifle,” Nerheim said.
Rausch was struck by the gunfire and pronounced dead at the scene. The rifle that Rausch had turned out to be a Crosman F4 Nitro Piston Air Rifle .177 mm with a scope.
Toxicology testing showed that Rausch had a blood alcohol concentration almost three times the legal limit and had numerous narcotics in his system.
“Based upon the facts gathered in this investigation and a review of the applicable Illinois Statutes, Officer Spencer acted reasonably and appropriately. I would like to commend the professionalism exhibited by Officer Tadd Spencer during these trying circumstances,” Nerheim said.