Fatal police shooting in Zion was justified, state's attorney says

A Zion police officer was justified when he fatally shot an armed, mentally ill man wearing body armor during a confrontation in January, Lake County's top prosecutor announced Friday.

Officer Steven Vines "only fired his weapon when he felt that his life and the life of his fellow officer was in danger," State's Attorney Michael Nerheim said in his report about the death of 38-year-old Zion resident Charles J. Hollstein.

The ruling follows an independent investigation by the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.

Hollstein, whose father said he suffered from schizophrenia, was killed Jan. 6 after Zion police responded to a complaint about a man taking photographs at local schools.

Hollstein was located and then led police on a foot chase. When Vines and officer Nathan Hucker tried to arrest him, he fought them, biting Hucker and trying to take Hucker's handgun out of its holster, according to Nerheim's report.

Attempts to subdue Hollstein with a stun gun and pepper spray were unsuccessful, according to the report.

As Hollstein tried to get Hucker's gun, Vines shot Hollstein three times in the upper back, killing him, according to Nerheim's report.

The task force interviewed the officers, reviewed physical evidence, listened to the 911 call that led to the confrontation, reviewed the autopsy report and investigated other aspects of the confrontation, Nerheim said.

Nerheim's report revealed Hollstein was carrying a pellet gun that looked like a real pistol, a knife and plastic ties that could be used as handcuffs. He also was wearing homemade body armor.

More weapons, police-style gear and homemade police-style uniforms were found inside his home, Nerheim wrote.

"Based upon this entire investigation, I conclude that Officer Vines was justified in his decision to use deadly force," Nerheim wrote.

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