GREENSBORO, N.C. – Police have released more details about a man who was found dead after barricading himself inside his Greensboro home and exchanging gunshots with police.
Christopher Tokazowski, 43, was found dead inside his home at 1606 Efland Drive at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, March 11.
Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott addressed local media Friday afternoon detailing the sequence of events that resulted in the fatal shooting. The information was also sent in a news release by Public Information Officer Susan Danielsen.
Police said it began shortly after 4 p.m. on March 11 when police were called to the home about a family disorder.
Upon arrival, officers saw Tokazowski outside his home with a rifle and handgun. Although the 43-year-old man was distraught, he was not threatening anyone at the time, according to police.
Police said officers escorted family members back to the residence so they could get personal property needed to remain out of the house overnight, and police resolved the incident peacefully.
Because Tokazowski’s actions concerned the family and he had a history of mental issues, officers informed the family how to obtain an involuntary commitment order. A family member agreed to seek the papers.
At 6:44 p.m., police were informed that involuntary commitment papers had been processed on Tokazowski. Patrol responded to his home to serve the papers, but could not find Tokazowski. Officers looked for him at places he was known to frequent but did not find him.
At 9:35 p.m., a witness called 911 to inform police that Tokazowski had returned home. Shortly before 10 p.m., police returned to the home and began talking with him through an open window.
Officers told Tokazowski about the involuntary commitment papers and asked him to leave the home so they could serve the papers. Police said Tokazowski refused to leave told police he was armed with a 12-gauge shotgun. Officers said they then heard the sound of a shotgun being loaded.
Officers continued talking with Tokazowski, and encouraged him to peaceably leave the home. Through an open window, they saw him holding a long gun and pointing it at officers. Tokazowski leveled the weapon’s laser on several police officers partially concealed outside the home.
At about 10:20 p.m., officers at the scene requested Greensboro police’s Special Response Team and Hostage Negotiation Team. Officers trained in special weapons, tactics, crisis negotiation and de-escalation began arriving on the scene.
Tokazowski became increasingly agitated over time. At about 11:02 p.m., he called 911 to report that police were harassing him. During the conversation, he told dispatchers that he was going to confront the officers, which the officers on scene overheard.
Tokazowski emerged from his home’s side door at about 11:11 p.m. and allegedly pointed his shotgun’s laser sight at an officer in his yard.
Several police officers on scene discerned this as an imminent deadly threat and shot him with gunfire over the next few seconds.
During this time, he entered and left the side door of his home and fired at least one round at officers. Tokazowski then retreated inside his home and re-established dialogue with negotiators through a phone line.
As crisis negotiators continued to tell Tokazowski to leave the home, he informed negotiators that he had been shot in an arm.
Negotiators pleaded with him several more times to safely leave the home so he could get medical care before losing contact with him at about 11:47 p.m.
Due to Tokazowski’s irrational behavior and use of a firearm towards officers, police deployed the department’s camera-equipped robot to look inside the residence.
When the video relayed by the robot showed Tokazowski motionless and laying on the kitchen floor, officers and a medic immediately entered the home.
They found him with no signs of life and the medic pronounced him deceased at about 1:33 a.m. March 12.
While conducting a safety sweep of the home, officers found multiple handguns and long guns tactically placed throughout the home, including the shotgun which was close by Tokazowski.
Because there was the possibility that Tokazowski’s death may have been the result of an officer-involved shooting, the case was referred to the State Bureau of Investigation.
Eight officers were placed on administrative duties while the SBI was investigating. Although the final report from the SBI is still pending, the preliminary findings conclude that all officers acted in accordance with state laws and Greensboro police policies. Based on these findings, the officers will be returned to full duty next week.
The preliminary report also indicates that police fired more than 100 rounds during the incident: one round struck Tokazowski’s left arm, others hit his residence, and still others were purposefully aimed at exterior lights and vehicle tires. Tokazowski fired at least one round, according to SBI agents. The findings do not indicate who fired first, or which officer fired the fatal round. No officers were injured in the incident.
People from nearby homes were evacuated or sheltered in place during the incident. Clergy at Irving Park United Methodist Church opened up their facility to those who needed temporary shelter. No residents were injured, and no nearby homes were damaged in the incident.
Police have replaced some household items damaged by gunfire and made arrangements for some home repairs.
Tokazowski's wife, Dawn, didn't want to go on camera but told FOX8 she believes police used too much force.
She also feels that everything hasn't come out yet about her husband's death.
Danielsen sent this statement to FOX8:
“Members in the department certainly are saddened that Mr. Tokazowski lost his life in this incident and that the family is in pain. However, the officers' actions were necessary to protect their lives and potentially the lives of others.”