Ellis County Attorney Tom Drees announced late this morning that no charges will be filed in an officer-involved shooting that happened a little more than a year ago in rural Ellis County.
The deputy with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office fired his weapon multiple times, hitting Kenton Kobza and killing the freshman who was attending Fort Hays State University.
The incident started at approximately 3 a.m. Nov. 8, 2016, in the 1200 block of Vine. An officer with the Hays Police Department stopped Kobza’s vehicle after he was swerving within the lane, according to information provided by the Ellis County Attorney’s Office.
Kobza’s vehicle eventually was stopped in the 1800 block of Vine. It was reported the driver was acting erratically, hitting the outside door of his vehicle with his hands. Additional officers were requested.
Kobza failed to obey the officer’s commands to stay in the vehicle, and he exited and started to approach the officer before returning to the vehicle.
He then fled north at a high rate of speed, reaching 70 mph in the 3300 block of Vine and approximately 107 mph at the overpass near Interstate 70.
A deputy with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office then took over the pursuit as the vehicle fled north out of Hays.
The high-speed chase lasted nearly 10 minutes before the driver turned the car into the west ditch just south of the Ellis-Rooks County line.
The driver exited the car and moved toward the deputy, who observed the suspect “growling and panting, making noises like an animal.”
The deputy ordered Kobza to the ground, but he did not comply immediately. After the deputy threatened to use a taser, the suspect lied on the ground. He then got up and approached the deputy, and the officer fired his taser into the suspect. It had no effect on the suspect, and he began pursued the deputy.
The law official then performed a drive-stun taser into the chest of the individual, and it had no effect on Kobza. The suspect then wrestled the taser away from the officer and knocked the deputy to the ground.
The deputy pulled his firearm and ordered the suspect back, warning he would be shot if he didn’t comply. Kobza continued to approach the officer, straddling the deputy and reaching for the firearm. He grabbed the gun and tried to take it from the deputy, and the official ordered the suspect not to grab the gun.
The suspect continued to grab for the gun, and multiple shots were fired. Kobza continued to try to take the firearm while growling. The deputy fired additional shots before the suspect loosened his grip on the gun and collapsed on top of the deputy.
The deputy pushed Kobza off him and was able to get back to his feet.
Backup officers arrived 30 seconds after shots were fired, and a Hays PD officer immediately began CPR.
An autopsy revealed three shots struck Kobza, and all were consistent with the officer and suspect struggling for the gun.
After investigation, it has been ruled the deputy acted in self-defense, trying multiple options before being forced to use his firearm.
The investigation involved the Ellis County Coroner Dr. Lyle Noordhoek, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office and the Hays PD.
The investigation showed the deputy “reasonably believed shooting the suspect was necessary to prevent his own death or great bodily harm. Therefore, no crime occurred and no charges will be filed,” according to the release by the county attorney’s office.
The county attorney's office has not officially released the name of the deputy involved, or Kobza's name. Kobza's name was confirmed by family and school officials.