'Suicide by cop' determined in credit union PBSO deputy-involved fatal shooting

SUBURBAN WEST PALM BEACH, Fl. -- - The deputies who shot and killed an armed Palm Springs man in February outside PBC Credit Union have been cleared of any wrong doing by the State Attorney's Office.

Investigators have finished going through the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office findings and said the shooting was justified, pointing to a "suicide by cop" scenario.

According to the State Attorney's Office, just minutes before PBC Credit Union closed, Chris Thompson, 18, brought a .22 caliber rifle into the parking lot and shot it with the purpose of dying.

"I was in this position here, right in front of the light bar so I could see him, trying to provide myself with some cover, and that's when I notified that shots were fired and my car had been hit," said Sgt. William Gale of PBSO during a video walk through of the scene released by the State Attorney's Office.

In the video, Gale explains what happened just hours after the shooting took place. He told investigators that once he arrived on scene, Thompson shot at him. Gale said he raised his shotgun and fired back, fearing for his safety.

"He just stood there for what seemed like a few seconds. So I wasn't sure if he was hit or hurt," said Gale.

Investigators said Thompson went to a nearby curb, with his gun next to him, and sat down after being shot. Shortly after, two other deputies would arrive, backing up Gale as they moved in to arrest Thompson.

"I think Deputy Booth came up and stuck his foot on the guys arm to try and keep him from grabbing it, at which time the guy took his hand and rifle and pulled it from underneath his foot. At which point, I was in fear that he might start shooting us and other people in the parking lot and I discharged my firearm," said Keith Strokes, a PBSO deputy, during a video walk through released by the State Attorney's Office.

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Medical records reveal Thompson was shot 11 times by deputies. Thompson had been shot in the chest, arms, legs, abdomen and back.

It was what Thompson did after deputies fired their guns that stands out to investigators though.

"When I, after we shot, after he was shot, he said 'thank you' and then he laid down, had his arms out, and that was it," said Charles Booth, a PBSO reserve deputy.

All three deputies would tell investigators that they heard Thompson say, "thank you," after they opened fire.

The State Attorney's Office said Thompson's behavior after he was shot is a clear example that Thompson chose suicide at the hands of law enforcement.

WPTV Investigative Producer Lynn Walsh contributed to this story.

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