CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Police Chief Steve Cooper stopped short of saying the death of a city man Thursday was a suicide-by-cop incident but Cooper said the man had shown a “pattern of behavior” leading up to Thursday’s shooting in Charleston.
According to investigators, Rodney Toler, 39, of Charleston, refused to stop for Dunbar police when they noticed him Thursday evening. He was wanted on a burglary charge. He had allegedly broken into his girlfriend’s house with a gun last week.
The pursuit started in Dunbar, continued through South Charleston and ended on Hunt Avenue in Charleston when Toler’s car hit a parked truck. Cooper said Toler produced a threat.
“Mr. Toler exited the vehicle and then began firing rounds from a semi-automatic pistol at the officers. The officers returned fire, striking and killing Mr. Toler,” Cooper said.
Police previously said the shots were fired by South Charleston officers. Since the shooting happened in Charleston it’s being investigated by Charleston police, Cooper said.
Toler rammed a Charleston Police Department cruiser with his car last November and asked police to kill him. He took it a step further Thursday, Cooper said.
“He actually opened fire on the police officers and they had no choice but to return fire. Clearly there’s a pattern of behavior there,” Cooper said. “We’re very glad that no police officers were injured. It could have been very bad for the officers because they were fired upon by Mr. Toler.”