Platte County Attorney Says Shooting of Ax-Wielding Man Was Justified
A Platte County sheriff's captain acted rightly when he shot and killed an intoxicated and ax-wielding man on April 1, according to a report from the county prosecutor and a Wheatland attorney released Monday.
"David Cain is responsible for his own death as he chose to threaten Captain [David] Russell with the ax and refused to drop it when ordered to do so," wrote attorney John B. Robinson to Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Douglas Weaver on Friday.
In his cover letter, Weaver said he also reviewed the reports and the investigation material from the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation.
The case started on April 1 when Russell and other officers responded to a call from Cain's mother because David Cain was fighting his brother, Nathan Cain, at their residence on Antelope Drive in Wheatland, according to Robinson's letter.
The officers knew law enforcement previously had been called to the residence about reports of fighting between the brothers, drug use, and child support warrants.
Russell's body camera showed him approaching the front door and David Cain's sister opening it. Russell saw David Cain in the doorway of a hall across the kitchen, holding a double bit ax and yelling at Russell to leave.
Russell drew his duty weapon, ordered David Cain to drop the ax, saw David Cain approach and raise the ax with both hands in a threatening manner, ordered him again to drop the ax a third time nine seconds after the first time, and shot him a second later when David Cain was a few feet away.
A few hours later, Nathan Cain told DCI agents that he and David had been arguing about religion, they began wrestling, David was holding him down, and Nathan asked his mother to call law enforcement.
Nathan Cain also said his brother was using methamphetamine, "acting weird," and had previously claimed to be Jesus, according to Robinson's letter. "David accused Nathan of having a demon in him and kept telling the demon to get out."
After Nathan asked his mother to call law enforcement, David got up and returned to the kitchen about the time Russell arrived.
Nathan also recalled Russell telling David three times to drop the ax, "David said 'f--k you. I'm not going with you. Try and take me.'"
The DCI also interviewed Cain's mother Donna Persefield and his sister Laura Balbuena.
Persefield said she thought David Cain was using methamphetamine at the time he claimed to be god and would argue with Nathan about religion.
She couldn't see into the kitchen from where she was sitting and could not see if David Cain was holding anything, but did hear Russell telling him to put down something.
Balbuena was with her mother, could hear her brothers arguing and physically fighting, and that Persefield called law enforcement. David Cain had a history of fighting with the family, she said. Before law enforcement arrived, Baluena told the DCI that David told them all that he was going to burn the house down and that they were all going to hell.
After Russell shot David, Balbuena said officers began helping him and called for an ambulance.
The toxicology report found the presence of these substances in David Cain's blood at the time of his death: amphetamine, methamphetamine, Delta-9 THC, Buprenorphine, and Norbuprenophine, according to Robinson's letter.
"The level of Methamphetamine in David Cain's blood on April 1, 2020, is consistent with his violent and irrational actions at the time he confronted Captain Russell with the ax," Robinson wrote.
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