No Violations Against Police Chief for Airsoft Gun Incident

Heidi Harris
Staff Writer

No criminal violations or cause for discipline has been found against the Valley City Police Chief Fred Thompson, resulting from an incident on Oct. 3 in Valley City, a release from Valley City City Administrator David Schelkoph says. Thompson drew his firearm in an incident involving a citizen who was pointing an Airsoft Rifle at minor children.

Reports from investigations of the incident by the North Dakota Bureau of Investigation, the Barnes County State’s Attorney and the City Attorney for Valley City all found no criminal conduct or violation of procedural rules.

The incident occurred in a residential area of Valley City where Thompson was patrolling. Thompson observed an individual who was behind a tree pointing what appeared to be an assault weapon at some children. Thompson drew his service weapon and ordered the individual to drop the weapon. It was later determined that the weapon was actually an airsoft rifle which resembled an assault rifle.

Airsoft rifles and pistols have orange tips to indicate they are toys. The only noticeable difference between real weapons and the airsoft weapons is the orange tip.

"There have been several incidents across the United States which resulted in police wounding or killing individuals possessing airsoft weapons because either the police did not see the orange tips, the tips were painted black or orange tips had been placed on real firearms," the release says. "Because these ambiguities occur, a law enforcement officer must assume the worst to ensure a safe resolution to any situation."

The results of the BCI investigation showed that Chief Thompson used his training and experience to neutralize an unknown threat, making sure everyone was safe.