Man Shot Dead in McDonald's by Police Was Unarmed, Holding a Cellphone

A police officer fatally shot a man who he believed was armed, but had in fact only been holding a cellphone, Vermont State Police said.

Rutland City Police Corporal Christopher Rose shot Jonathan Daniel Mansilla in the bathroom of a McDonald's on August 25 as he tried to apprehend him following a police chase.

Rose told investigators in a voluntary interview that he saw an object "he perceived to be an unknown weapon" before firing his gun and hitting Mansilla in the chest, Seven Days reported. An autopsy said that Mansilla, 33, of Coral Gables, Florida, died of gunshot wounds to the chest.

Vermont State Police Capt. Scott Dunlap said that during the confrontation, Mansilla had held the cell phone up, but there "there was no verbal communication" from him before he charged at Rose in the bathroom.

The release of the information, which follows interviews and witness statements, is the first time police have revealed the details of the shooting, including whether or not Mansilla was armed.

Police said that leading up to the shooting, there had been a hit-and-run crash in a parking lot on North Main Street in Rutland, and Mansilla's vehicle had fled the scene.

Officers saw the car at various locations and a chase with Masilla ended when he crashed into a delivery truck at an intersection of Allen Street and Route 7. He then ran into the nearby McDonald's and went inside the men's room.

"Rose entered shortly afterward and saw Mansilla's lower extremities under the gap at the bottom of a stall," Vermont State Police said in a statement on Thursday.

"Mansilla then exited the stall and ran toward Rose. The officer said he observed an object in Mansilla's hand that he perceived to be an unknown weapon of some kind."

Rose fired three rounds from his department-issued handgun, hitting Mansilla twice in the chest.

Investigation Underway

An investigation is ongoing and will be given to the Vermont Attorney General's Office and the Bennington County State's Attorney's Office. They will assess Rose's use of deadly force.

Rose is being represented by his union, the New England Police Benevolent Association, which Newsweek has contacted for comment.

Jerry O'Neill, a former federal prosecutor not connected to the case, said that just because he mistook the cellphone for a firearm "doesn't mean he was guilty of a crime," and that the question is whether he had enough information "that he should have realized it wasn't a gun," Valley News reported.

Police car lights
A file photo of police car lights. Vermont State Police said an officer who fatally shot a man he believed to be armed on August 25 was only carrying a cellphone.