US & Canada

Death of US policeman that sparked manhunt ruled suicide

Media captionABC's Megan Hughes reports on the investigation into the officer's death

The death of an Illinois police officer that set off a massive manhunt in September has been ruled a suicide.

Lt Charles Gliniewicz radioed to say he was chasing three suspects and was later found struck by two gunshots.

Authorities now say that this was a ploy, staged by the officer who had been stealing money from the department's youth programme for years.

Officers from about 50 Chicago-area police departments scoured the area for the three men for days to no avail.

Gliniewicz, a US Army veteran who often went by the nickname "GI Joe", radioed dispatchers to say that he was in a running chase after three suspicious men.

When other officers arrived, he was found dead about 50 yards (46m) from his patrol car.

In the wake of the incident, he was heralded as a hero who died while on the job - fuelling debate about the use of force by police.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The officer's death prompted a massive outpouring of grief

In October, investigators said that the 52-year-old officer had been killed with his own weapon. They arrested three men captured on a home security video system, but all were released.

Gliniewicz was hit by two bullets. The first hit his bullet-proof vest with what an official said was the force of a "sledgehammer". The other punctured his upper chest.

The lead investigator in the matter said that Gliniewicz had been stealing and laundering money from the police department's youth development programme, which he led.

The investigator said that the stolen money was used for mortgage payments, travel, personal purchases and more.

The officer's family has dismissed the suggestion of suicide. One of his four children, DJ, said his dad "never once" thought of taking his own life, and noted that his dad was excited for retirement.

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