5 Abilene officers receiving counseling, on leave after Sweetwater man's death


ABILENE, Texas - Five Abilene police employees are receiving counseling – and remain on paid administrative leave – in the wake of last Thursday's shooting death of a 50-year-old Sweetwater man.

Police say Michael Berry repeatedly ignored requests to surrender and fired repeatedly on officers before being shot and killed after four-hour standoff with law enforcement at his Sweetwater home.

"The involved employees will remain on administrative leave until they are released by a professional counselor," Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge said in an email Monday. "Those meetings should be concluded today, so we anticipate their return to work this week.

"However, our goal is their emotional well-being, so we will fully support any needs they may have."

According to Sweetwater police, Berry stole a front loader from L.R. Sells & Son Scrap Iron on West Broadway Street after reviewing surveillance video at approximately10:30 a.m. last Thursday.

Sweetwater police then proceeded to make contact with Berry at his residence across the street – near the old Midway Drive-in – around 10:45 a.m. last Thursday, as part of an effort to retrieve the equipment.

At that time, police say, Berry refused to come out of his trailer, but emerged briefly waving a revolver at officers.

That is when Sweetwater police called on the help of the Abilene Police Department – at approximately 11:45 a.m. last Thursday.

According to Abilene Police Sgt. Lynn Beard, the Abilene SWAT team made over 30 attempts to negotiate with Berry. A search warrant was thenissued at 3:20 p.m. last Thursday.

Abilene police officers then used their armored vehicle to remove a part of the wall in a room where Berry was hiding and deployed tear gas, Beard has said.

According to police, Berry fired shots at the officers before they reacted and shot back at him.

Berry was then transferred to the Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital, where he died, Beard has said.

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