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Deputy cleared in drug raid fatality Won't face action in Buffalo shooting

A Niagara County sheriff's deputy has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in a fatal shooting during a drug sweep July 29 in Buffalo, the deputy's attorney said Monday.

"The [Erie County] district attorney's office informed me that they will not be presenting the deadly force incident involving Deputy Aaron Schultz to a grand jury," said Thomas H. Burton, who is representing Schultz. "District Attorney [Frank J.] Clark has made a determination that the facts are clear enough that a grand jury will not have to review it."

Schultz, 31, a member of the sheriff's Emergency Response Team, killed Marvin Sullivan, 43, who was with a woman targeted in the morning sweep.

Burton said his client fired three shots at Sullivan, who had pointed a shotgun at the deputy as he entered an upstairs bedroom on Kay Street.

Clark could not be reached Monday to comment. First Deputy District Attorney John J. DeFranks said he had no information about the case.

Authorities previously had said they considered the shooting justified because the deputy had felt he was in "imminent threat of physical force."

The drug sweep, called Operation Third Strike, targeted four major cocaine-dealing groups that officials said controlled virtually the entire cocaine supply in Buffalo.

More than 150 law enforcement officers from several agencies fanned out in the city, mostly in the Northeast Police District, confiscating more than 12 pounds of crack and powder cocaine, 17 weapons and more than $100,000 in cash.

The 23 people taken into custody included Toni White, 50, who was with Sullivan when he was shot, authorities said.

According to Burton, a 10-member Emergency Response Team that included Schultz arrived at the home at 202 Kay St., in the Kensington-Eggert neighborhood, at about 6:45 a.m.

Schultz led half the group upstairs. As they reached the second floor, members yelled, "Police, search warrant, get on the floor," or words to that effect, Burton said.

"[Schultz] kicked the door open, took one step inside, and as soon as he entered, a guy with a bolt-action shotgun is standing there, 3 to 5 feet away from him, and pointing the weapon at him," Burton said.

Burton said the deputy acted on instinct.

"At that moment, his training took over," he said. "The whole thing was over in about two seconds."

Burton said not taking such a fatal shooting to a grand jury was unusual.

But Clark's decision followed an in-depth investigation, Burton said, and his client has a "stellar record" in nine years with the Sheriff's Office.

e-mail: gwarner@buffnews.com

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