Guilty and not guilty: Jury split on Greenlee case regarding officer-involved shooting and kidnapping of former County Attorney

Shawn Patrick Kelly was found guilty of aggravated assault against a police officer with a deadly weapon but was found not guilty on kidnapping and a second aggravated assault charge.

By Jon Johnson

CLIFTON – After a four-day trial, a 12-person jury came down with a mixed verdict Thursday regarding the case against Shawn Patrick Kelly, 53. 

The jury found Kelly guilty of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for shooting at Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. John Mennen, but not guilty on charges of kidnapping and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against former Greenlee County Attorney Derek Rapier.

Kelly was represented by his appointed attorney Ivan Safyan Abrams, of Tucson, and the case was prosecuted by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office due to a conflict with the Greenlee County Attorney’s Office.  

The case stems from an incident Nov. 18, 2018, in Duncan, in which Rapier came upon a depressed Kelly at about 4:15 p.m. Kelly was reportedly upset that he was being evicted from the commercial building he lived in just east of Hilda’s Restaurant. Kelly said the previous owner had given it to him, however, he did not have a title and the town of Duncan had made an effort to secure the title because town leaders did not think Kelly living in the abandoned building with his dogs was wise, according to a local store owner. 

After talking for a bit, Rapier accepted Kelly’s invitation to go into his residence at 111 Old West Highway and the conversation moved indoors, where Kelly began drinking from a bottle of vodka and a milk jug with a brown liquid in it, according to Rapier’s statement to police. 

After a while, Kelly’s demeanor changed and believed Rapier to not be there to help him and ended up retrieving a .38-caliber 1871 revolver from under his pillow and pointed it at Rapier’s head with the hammer pulled back and his finger in the trigger guard. Kelly reportedly then said “you ever have a gun pointed at your head?”, according to police reports. 

The shooting took place at a commercial building Shawn Kelly called home, located just east of Hilda’s Restaurant in Duncan.

Eventually, Rapier said he managed to talk Kelly into lowering the weapon and giving it to him, and when Kelly went to retrieve a rifle, Rapier used the moment to flee from the residence with the handgun, which was later shown to be loaded. 

Rapier then called the police and Greenlee County Sgt. John Mennen was first on the scene. Upon arrival, Sgt. Mennen attempted to make contact with Kelly. After failing to do so, Sgt. Mennen moved his patrol vehicle almost directly in front of the building’s open door and had his emergency lights activated. 

As Sgt. Mennen attempted to make contact the second time, gunshots rang out and Sgt. Mennen was struck by stucco debris that was blasted off the building. It was later learned that Kelly had shot at Sgt. Mennen with a .30-caliber U.S. Carbine M1 rifle.  

Sgt. Mennen returned fire with his department-issued 9MM handgun, and then retreated to the rear of his vehicle and radioed about shots being fired, according to reports and body camera footage. He then moved toward the front of the vehicle and saw Kelly appear in the doorway, armed with a rifle that he held at his hip as he appeared to survey the area. Sgt. Mennen reported he called out Kelly’s name and fired at him until Kelly slumped over onto the floor. In total, Sgt. Mennen reloaded his weapon one time. 

Backup soon arrived and Kelly’s rifle was secured. Kelly reportedly was struck five times, including in his abdomen, chest, back, and left leg, and was flown to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson for treatment. The bullets shattered a kidney, fractured his leg, and lacerated his colon, among other injuries.  

The investigation was handed over to the Graham County Sheriff’s Office, which collected .30-caliber casings from the scene, along with 15 9mm casings from the deputy’s weapon, the .30-caliber U.S. Carbine M1 rifle, bullet fragments, a New England 12-gauge shotgun with five loaded rounds, six other rifles, various ammunition, and the handgun from Rapier. 

With the guilty verdict, the case will now move to the sentencing phase, which is scheduled to take place Sept. 16. 

This article was updated to reflect Kelly was struck five times by Sgt. Mennen’s bullets.

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