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State's attorney: officers acted appropriately

Three officers who shot and killed a 55-year-old Belfield man in June acted appropriately, Stark County State's Attorney Tom Henning said Tuesday.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigations found Stark County Sheriff's Department Capt. Lawrence Kitzman, Deputy Matt Hanson and North Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Travis Holding Eagle fired 12 shots at Keith Newton, Henning said.

Keith Newton had refused to drop his fully loaded .357 revolver and aimed it at an officer, Henning said.

"The police department had no choice -- definitely not one bit to blame," said Bob Newton, Keith Newton's brother.

The family suspects he committed "suicide by cop," said Kenneth Newton Sr., another brother of Keith Newton's.

"What happened that day was what he set out to have happen," Kenneth Newton Sr. said.

The incident began with a dispute between Keith Newton and Tim Weiss, 54, at Weiss's residence north of Belfield, Henning said.

Weiss called 911 and said a gun was pointed at him and that shots had been fired and the phone was then disconnected, Henning said.

Keith Newton fired at least six times while at Weiss's residence, Henning said, adding one of the rounds grazed Weiss's head.

Weiss managed to get a gun away from Keith Newton, Henning said.

When police arrived at Weiss's home, Keith Newton was driving away and a chase ensued. He exited his vehicle with a gun at the south end of Belfield.

Keith Newton was observed making a cross or x across his chest with his hand, Henning said.

Officers told him to drop his weapon, Deputy Todd Weiler pulled out his Taser and Keith Newton took aim at him, Henning said.

Officers opened fire, Henning said.

Keith Newton was hit with three shotgun rounds and three rifle rounds and more grazed him, Henning said.

"He was high on alcohol and high on drugs," Kitzman said. "As he was falling, he kept that gun on that deputy all the way down until he hit the ground, so at any point through that whole thing, he could have carried out his threat also."

All of the rifle wounds were lethal and two of the three shotgun wounds were lethal, he added.

"You shoot them to stop the threat and then you try to resuscitate him, which they did," Henning said.

He died at the scene.

Weiss was released from the hospital shortly after the incident. He and Angela King, 48, who was at Weiss's home during the incident, were not charged, Henning said.

Bob Newton said his family is doing "probably as good as could be expected. The tremendous shock is wearing off."

Keith Newton was a "happy hippie," Kenneth Newton Sr. said.

"Keith was a guy everybody liked," Kenneth Newton said. "He was just a heck of a good fella with a lot of good friends."

However, he had gotten into hard drugs and his life had started going downhill, Kenneth Newton Sr. said.

The officers were put on administrative leave for about a month and things are almost back to normal at the SCSO, Sheriff Clarence Tuhy said.

Kitzman and Hanson said the event is still in the back of their minds.

"I've seen people that kind of resembled him that make you think about it," Hanson said.

Hanson said he didn't think he'd ever have to shoot anybody.

"I've never had to fire on anyone before," Kitzman said adding he's worked for SCSO for 26 years. "I've been shot at a couple times, but never had to shoot back."