Douglas County DA finds officer-involved shooting was legally justified

photo by: Contributed

This body camera image released by the Douglas County District Attorney's Office shows a Lawrence police officer confronting Michael Blanck on Oct. 2, 2022, at at 1715 E. 21st Terrace.

Story updated at 7:56 p.m. Thursday:

Lawrence Police Department officers involved in the shooting death of a man in October were justified in their actions, Douglas County District Attorney Suzanne Valdez announced Thursday in a news release, and they will face no criminal charges.

Michael Scott Blanck, 43, was shot by officers on Oct. 2 at 1715 E. 21st Terrace, as the Journal-World previously reported.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. The KBI said the day after the shooting that preliminary information indicated that police had responded to the report of a broken window at 1715 E. 21st Terrace, which is the home of Blanck’s father. Officers had been informed that a male suspect was inside the residence. Officers did not enter, and the homeowner was not home at the time, the KBI said. Blanck met police outside the residence, and when police attempted to make verbal contact with him he pulled out a handgun and pointed it at the officers, the KBI said. Three out of five of the responding officers then opened fire, striking Blanck multiple times.

photo by: Kansas Department of Corrections

Michael Scott Blanck in 2011.

“The death of Michael Blanck is a tragedy that had the potential to end much worse. We have met with Mr. Blanck’s family to express our condolences and to review my findings following the investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI),” Valdez’s news release stated. “The officers involved in this incident acted lawfully and were legally justified in their response to the actions taken by Mr. Blanck. The integrity of this investigation was important to all involved and our community and I would like to thank the KBI for its thoroughness and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office for securing the scene following the incident.”

Some neighbors at the time of the incident said that the home had been the site of multiple disturbance calls to police. One neighbor said that there was a confrontation a couple of days prior to the shooting at the home and that police were called; then, the day of the shooting, there was another incident where a person, reportedly Blanck, was seen outside the home with an assault-style rifle.

The DA’s 30-page report on the shooting largely mirrored what the KBI and witnesses reported at the time. One witness in the report stated that Blanck was “incredibly aggressive” and fired his gun four times before police returned fire. The witness said there was no time for police to do anything other than fire their weapons. Another witness, identified as Blanck’s niece, said officers did not appear to display their weapons until Blanck pulled up his shirt and brandished his gun.

In the report, one officer claimed to have fired his weapon 18 times. Another officer said he fired one time, and a third said he fired one time. A police canine was then used to pull Blanck away from his firearm.

The officers have never been named and were put on paid administrative leave. On Thursday evening, Lawrence police spokesperson Laura McCabe said they had been cleared to return to active duty, and the department had begun its internal investigation into the incident.

“When faced with an imminent confrontation with an armed individual, the officers performed their duties admirably,” Lawrence police Chief Rich Lockhart said in an email. “This situation is tragic for the Blanck family and for the officers as well. Our thoughts are with the Blanck family as they continue to process the loss of their family member.”

Blanck’s wife was “not surprised to hear” that he had been shot by police, according to Valdez’s report. She said she tried to get him help numerous times but had been unsuccessful. Blanck was not living with her at the time because of a no-contact order against him. She said that Blanck had been sober for 10 years until January, when he got into legal trouble and started drinking heavily. About seven minutes before shots were fired on Oct. 2, Blanck texted his wife that he loved her, the report said.

According to forensic evidence referenced in Valdez’s report, Blanck’s body had five “projectiles” inside. His urine drug screen tested positive for ethanol, methamphetamine, cocaine, benzodiazepines and cannabinoids.

Blanck was previously convicted of aggravated battery and felony obstruction, according to court records, and was awaiting sentencing on Oct. 28. He also faced a charge of violating a protection order.

Blanck also had previous convictions in Douglas County for felony robbery, multiple counts of misdemeanor theft, and he was convicted of at least a fourth DUI in 2012, according to the Kansas Department of Corrections.


photo by: Contributed

The gun Michael Scott Blanck was allegedly holding when he confronted Lawrence police officers on Oct. 2, 2022, at at 1715 E. 21st Terrace.

photo by: Contributed

A body camera still of Michael Scott Blanck confronting officers on Oct. 2, 2022, at 1715 E. 21st Terrace.

photo by: Contributed

A body camera still of Michael Scott Blanck confronting officers on Oct. 2, 2022, at 1715 E. 21st Terrace.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that one of the officers fired his gun only once.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.