Bismarck police officer killed during domestic disturbance callA 32-year veteran Bismarck police officer was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call about a man threatening a woman with a knife, authorities said Saturday.
By: James MacPherson, Associated Press
BISMARCK — A 32-year veteran Bismarck police officer was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call about a man threatening a woman with a knife, authorities said Saturday.
Sgt. Steven Kenner, 56, and another officer responded to the call at about 11 p.m. on Friday and found the suspect, 52-year-old Steven G. Bannister, sitting in a van outside a trailer home on the city's east side, police said. As they approached the van, Bannister shot Kenner. The other officer returned fire, wounding the Bannister, they said
Kenner was rushed to a hospital, where he died, Bismarck Police Chief Keith Witt said. He was married and had three children.
"I consider him a friend," a teary-eyed Witt said at a news conference. "I know the department truly misses him."
Bannister remained hospitalized on Saturday. Witt said he didn't know what condition Bannister was in, but that he doesn't think his wounds are life-threatening.
Bannister was arrested on suspicion of murder, Witt said. Burleigh State's Attorney Richard Riha said he expects to formally charge Bannister on Monday. He said Bannister did not have a lawyer representing him.
The officer who shot the suspect, whose name was not given, has been placed under administrative leave, which is department policy when an officer shoots someone, Witt said.
"I'm fairly confident the officer was justified in firing his gun as he did," Witt said.
Lorne Campbell, a witness to the shooting, told the Bismarck Tribune that he saw two officers run to a parked van across from a trailer park and then heard shots.
"They yelled at the occupants of the van: 'Police officers. Show me your hands.' They asked that several times," Campbell said. "I walked out of view, and I heard about eight shots, and I turned around and went back and looked, and I saw a police officer on the west side of the van lying on the ground."
Witt would not say how many times Kenner was shot or where, or if he was wearing his department-issued bullet-proof vest. The chief also would not say how many times Bannister was shot.
"It's under investigation," Witt said.
Court records show that Bannister pleaded guilty in 2006 guilty to charges of terrorizing, carrying a concealed weapon and bringing a firearm into a bar or gaming site. He received a year-long suspended sentence for each charge.
Witt did not know where Bannister was living in Bismarck.
"He had lived in Bismarck but was in possession of a Nebraska driver's license," Witt said.
A woman who answered the door Saturday at the trailer from which the police call originated declined to comment.
Outside the Bismarck police station Saturday, officers lowered the department's flag to half-staff in honor of the slain officer. Mayor John Warford later ordered flags flown at half-staff on Saturday until after Kenner's funeral, which has not been set.
Witt said that Kenner is the first Bismarck police officer killed in the line of duty.
The Fraternal Order of Police on its website described Kenner, who served on the National FOP Board of Trustees, as being "giant in stature" but said he was known for his "kind and gentle disposition and selfless service to others."
Witt said Kenner was a large man with a commanding presence.
"His physical size was intimidating but he wasn't," Witt said.
The department in the city of about 61,000 people has 101 sworn officers. Witt said Kenner was the department's traffic expert.
"He's what we call a working sergeant, training and mentoring other officers," Witt said.
North Dakota has had 49 other officers die in the line of duty since 1882, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, an independent website that compiles the names of law enforcement officers nationally who are killed on the job.
The most recent North Dakota law officer killed on the job was correctional instructor Roger Sorenson, who drowned in the Little Missouri River at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 1996 while attempting to cross the river on horseback while supervising juvenile inmates on a hike.