Lake County investigators walk near the scene where Round Lake police officer Valerie Liss fatally shot Michael Robert Musson on Sept. 3, 2016. (Joe Shuman / Chicago Tribune)
A Round Lake police officer used reasonable force when she fatally shot a man who was on drugs and armed with a shard of glass during a late-night altercation last September, Lake County authorities announced Friday.
Round Lake police officer Valerie Liss had acted professionally during the incident, and only fired her weapon at Michael Robert Musson when she felt her life and possibly a resident’s were in danger, the report from Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim found.
"Numerous witnesses described Mr. Musson’s violent, destructive, and aggressive actions on the late evening hours of September 2, 2016. These actions are what prompted a multitude of ‘911’ calls," Nerheim said in the report.
Musson, 22, died after he was shot four times during the incident, and also had abrasions and contusions on his foread and face, according to Lake County coroner’s office records. Nerheim’s report said Musson had suffered multiple gunshot wounds to his upper torso and right leg, along with a graze wound on his left hip.
Neighbors had called 911 that night about someone banging on doors. When Liss arrived, according to Nerheim’s report, Musson was running and slamming his body into the front door of a home along North Macgillis Drive.
Musson, who investigators say had consumed six "hits" of LSD before the altercation, appeared to have been breaking windows and lights and might have tried forcing his way into at least one condominium in the Round Lake neighborhood, according to the Lake County Major Crime Task Force, which investigated the shooting.
Musson, who police said was holding a shard of glass during the confrontation, died after being shot multiple times, according to the Lake County Coroner’s Office. According to a toxicology report, Musson also had barbituates, cannabinoids, salicylates, acetone, ethanol, isopropanol and methanol in his system.
Liss said in her report that when she arrived, Musson was banging on the front door of a residence that was not his and hurling items at the door. The officer reported that she asked Musson to come over and talk to her, and when he approached, she saw that "he had numerous cuts on him and had blood on his clothes. He was barefoot and his eyes appeared glazed."
After Liss called for additional help at the scene, according to the report, Musson continued to act erratically and picked up a large shard of glass.
Liss reported to investigators that when she asked him to put down the glass, Musson smiled at her and "then charged her. He slammed his body into her body, knocked her to the sidewalk" and she momentarily passed out as he was on top of her, Nerheim’s report said.
Liss stated that Musson then made slashing motions across her throat, threatened to kill her and gouged his fingers into her eyes, the report said.
"Officer Liss screamed for Mr. Musson to get off of her. He continued to smother her with his weight. She again told Mr. Musson to get off of her. He yelled ‘(Expletive) you. I’m going to kill you!’" the report said. "Officer Liss was worried that Mr. Musson was trying to slit her throat with the piece of broken glass. Mr. Musson then repositioned himself to place more of his weight over her. Mr. Musson then started to repeatedly sing ‘I’m going to kill you.’"
A neighbor then yelled for Musson to get off of Liss, distracting him and giving her the opportunity to escape from under him, she told investigators, and she was able to stand and draw her gun, the report said.
Liss reported she had Musson covered with her gun and yelled at Musson, "’Don’t move! Stay down!’" the report said. Musson ignored her commands and started to aggressively rush Liss, she said in reports.Fearing that Musson was going to kill her, she discharged her gun three times, and then twice more when he continued to move toward her, the report said.
According to a coroner’s autopsy report, Musson likely died in less than a minute.
The level of LSD, a psychedelic drug also known as acid, in Musson’s blood was 4.2 nanograms per milliliter, according to the coroner’s report. Concentrations of LSD between 4 and 6 nanograms per milliliter are usually seen one to two hours after the usual psychedelic dose, the report stated.
The Lake County Major Crime Task Force handled the investigation and the Round Lake Police Department did not take part, Nerheim’s report said.
The investigation included intervieweing all witnesses to determine what occurred before, during, and after the shooting; photographing the scene; recovering all physical evidence; reviewing 911 audio evidence and recorded police transmissions; and a review of the entire autopsy, according to the release. There was no video footage of the incident, the report said.
Nerheim said he reviewed all of that information, as well as applicable laws regarding a police officer’s use of deadly force, prior to deciding the officer "utilized reasonable force to subdue Mr. Musson."
Nerheim noted that Liss’s account of the attack mirrors the versions provided by the eyewitnesses.
The case file will be available on the state’s attorney’s website for the public to review, Nerheim said in the release.
"I would like to express my condolences to the family of Michael Musson, Jr. I would also like to acknowledge the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force for its expertise, dedication, and thoroughness," Nerheim said. "I would like to acknowledge the professionalism exhibited by Officer Liss during these trying circumstances."