Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd
announced Tuesday at the Platte County Courthouse
that his office determined that four Missouri
State Highway Patrol troopers and a Platte County
Deputy Sheriff acted properly when fatally shooting
a man who had opened fire on them after a high-speed
chase along Interstate 29 on May 22.
Seth L. Martin, 23, of Westboro, died from multiple
gunshot wounds after he twice fired multiple shots
at officers from an assault rifle.
Platte County doesnt have a sitting
grand jury so the decision falls upon me,
stated Zahnd. I have reviewed this matter
thoroughly. The actions of the troopers and deputy
involved were reasonable and justified.
In all likelihood, the officers actions
saved their own lives and those of innocent travelers
driving northbound on Interstate 29.
Zahnd presented a videotape of the incident at
the press conference that was taken from a dashboard
camera of one of the troopers vehicles.
The videotape shows Martins Silver Dodge
pickup truck emitting sparks from the drivers
side wheels because the tires had been deflated
by spiked stop strips laid by a deputy earlier
in the chase.
The chase originated in Buchanan County, where
Martin was speeding 97 mph, he continued into
Platte County exceeding speeds of 100 mph. The
pursuit lasted approximately 20 minutes,
The tape also shows that as a state trooper was
standing in the median of I-29, attempting to
deploy another set of stop strips, the truck abruptly
swerved toward the trooper.
Martin then brakes and appears to intentionally
skid the truck in a clockwise direction so the
truck is stopped, facing oncoming traffic. Martin
immediately grabbed an Armalite M15A2 semiautomatic
assault rifle (equivalent to the militarys
As Martin got out of his vehicle he fired shots
at the officers. The officers then returned fire.
Zahnd continued that Martin ran toward the ditch
and up an embankment on the west side of southbound
Officers repeatedly ordered Martin to drop his
weapon and show his hands.
According to officers' statements, Martin sat
on the embankment facing the officers and appeared
to be doing something with his weapon. After about
a 30-second pause and the officers continuing
to tell Martin to drop his weapon, Martin lifted
and aimed his weapon at the officers and began
to fire. Officers returned fire, striking Martin
eight times including two shots to his head.
When Mr. Martin refused the officers
commands to drop his weapon and started firing
again, he placed the lives of the officers and
anyone traveling northbound on I-29 in grave danger,
said Zahnd. Mr. Martins shots, though
directed at the officers, were traveling across
the median as traffic continued to pass northbound.
Had it not been for those officers actions,
it is likely one of them or an innocent passerby
would have been wounded or killed by Mr. Martin.
According to the autopsy report, Martin died
from wounds sustained during the shooting. He
was pronounced dead at Truman Medical Center during
the early morning hours of May 23. The autopsy
also indicated that Martins blood-alcohol
content was twice over the legal limit.
Its always regrettable when law enforcement
has to result in deadly force. I believe their
actions were reasonable and justified, stated
Investigators located 18 spent casings from Martins
rifle, as well as two empty magazines, and six
full boxes of ammunition.
Zahnd stated that earlier in the day, Martin
had fled the scene of a hit-and-run accident in
Nodaway County, Missouri.
Zahnd said in investigating the incident, Martin
earlier had told a friend that when he died
he was going to die in a big way.
Subsequent investigation revealed Martin had
several prior convictions, including convictions
for drug distribution and stealing, and was on
electronically-monitored house arrest at the time
of the shooting.