Questions remain about officer-involved shooting of Hays man

Hays Police Department

HAYS, Kan. (KSNW) – After a man was shot and killed by a Hays Police officer last Thursday, an Ellis County official still is not answering many questions about the victim or the shooting.

Family members of 36-year-old Joseph Weber tell KSN the man was autistic. But, that question and others we asked about the man and the incident are going unanswered.

KSN learned Monday the officer involved in the shooting has been put on paid administrative leave until the investigation into the incident has been completed. But, questions, such as, was Weber armed, did he threaten police and was there any video of the incident have gone unanswered by the Ellis County Attorney, Thomas Drees.

“Did the man threaten police? I’m not going to comment on that, obviously there was an escalation to the point where a shot was fired and he was killed,” said Drees.

Authorities have been tight-lipped about the fatal shooting, and four days after the incident they still have not officially released the name of the victim.

KSN wanted to know why.

“Why hasn’t the name been released through you guys, KBI, or anybody who is doing the investigation?” asked KSN’s Chris Arnold.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to release the name at this time,” said Drees.  “We don’t know if this is a justified or unjustified shooting.”

With no comments from authorities, here’s what we do know.

On Thursday afternoon, Joseph Weber was pulled over by a Hays Police officer. Weber became flustered and took off in his car.  We now know through emails from some members of Weber’s family that he was autistic and had very low verbal skills.

According to a news release from the Ellis County Attorney’s Office, Weber drove off from the initial car stop and was pursued by an officer.  When he was stopped a second time, police said he got out of his car and wouldn’t follow directions of the officers. That’s when an officer shot and killed him. It’s still unclear why Weber was pulled over in the first place, and authorities won’t say if there was a recording of the incident.

KSN asked Drees what comes next in this investigation. He said once the coroner and KBI wrap up their investigations, the case will be turned over to his office. He says he will review that information with the Kansas Attorney General’s Office to decide whether or not the shooting was justified.

During the course of covering this story, KSN discovered that Hays police officers don’t have body cameras, and the department isn’t planning on adding any.

The assistant chief says that some of their patrol cars do have dash cameras but wouldn’t say how many.

All officers wear devices that record audio and are usually turned on by the officer.

KSN will be requesting any footage from the scene of the shooting.

Comments are closed.