The initial investigation into the police shooting death of an unarmed man Saturday night shows he charged at an officer and ignored commands after a woman reported him trying to break open a door, Chief Ed Hargis said Thursday.
Hargis spoke at a news conference at his office, where police released a recording of the 911 call in which a woman inside an apartment building at 454 Green St. reported that a man she did not know was trying to break in. She relayed information being given to her by a female neighbor.
Kirill Denyakin, 26, a Kazakh national and cook at the Renaissance Portsmouth Hotel, was banging on the door. He was intoxicated, according to police and friends, and had been staying in the building with a friend. Acquaintances originally incorrectly identified him as Kreal Suchin.
They knew him as "K" or "KGB."
An officer responded to the call and gave commands to Denyakin, causing him to turn around, the chief said, adding that the investigation is not complete.
This was the description of the incident given by Hargis:
"The suspect disregards the verbal commands being issued by the officer. He immediately places his hands at the midsection of his body, in the waistband area, and then charges at the officer. The officer begins to retreat toward the sidewalk of Green Street while giving additional verbal commands. The suspect continues his advance on the officer, causing the officer to discharge his service weapon in an effort to stop the threat. This encounter lasted less than two minutes from the officer's (10:12 p.m.) arrival to the discharge of the weapon."
When asked whether the officer perceived that his life was in danger, Hargis said, "At this time, because the interviews aren't completed yet, I'm not going to say what the officer perceived when he discharged his weapon."
Earlier Saturday, Denyakin had a dispute with someone in the apartment building and was told to leave, Hargis said.
Police will receive a toxicology report for Denyakin and will have forensic evidence from the scene tested.
Friends and co-workers of Denyakin said they were shocked that he was involved in the shooting. They described him as a good friend and a hard worker who didn't lose his temper. Some Olde Towne residents said he was well known in the area.
Maurice Wilson, the friend with whom Denyakin had been staying, said he saw Denyakin around 9 p.m. Saturday. Wilson briefly left work after his wife told him Denyakin was drunk. Wilson said he and another man had to help carry Denyakin down the sidewalk because he was so intoxicated.
"He couldn't even walk... he's not in a stage where he can attack somebody," Wilson said Thursday. "I told him to go back in the house and go to sleep."
Wilson had returned to his job when the shooting happened.
He was upset as he stood outside Hargis' office after the news conference.
"You can't justify something like that," he said.
The Kazakhstan government has paid for Denyakin's mother to travel to Portsmouth and for his body to be returned, an embassy spokeswoman said.
"This is our citizen, and our embassies are always helping our citizens wherever they are," Meruyert Saudabay said. "We will be following this story."
The mother, Yelena Denyakina, spoke to reporters through a translator after the news conference and said her son would not have fought with police.
"Maybe he just fell down on the steps," she said. "He's very smart. He wants to just make his life better. He never would do something stupid to fight with police."
The officer who shot Denyakin has not been identified and has been placed on administrative leave during an investigation, a standard procedure in police-involved shootings. He has been with Portsmouth police for 3-1/2 years, Hargis said.
The findings will be presented to the commonwealth's attorney. Police also are reviewing whether the officer followed department policies.
Patrick Wilson, (757)769-3351, firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter.