The off-duty Albany police officer implicated in the shooting death of a Syracuse man in Utica early Monday morning will not face charges for murder because it was a “justifiable shooting,” according to Utica Police Chief Mark Williams.
The officer, 34-year-old Christofer Kitto, will be charged with hiring a prostitute, officials said.
Kitto, a 5-year veteran of the Albany Police Department, was at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona earlier in the morning, and then met with a woman and went to her Utica home at 1303 Lincoln Ave., police said. The woman advertised sex for money on an escort website, police stated.
Once at the Utica residence, police said 35-year-old Shatelle Hooks, of Syracuse, came out and threatened Kitto with a knife, demanding property.
“(Hooks) was in the house waiting for him,” Chief Williams said.
According to Williams, the department is investigating to see if Hooks and the woman were “working in conjunction” to ambush Kitto.
When Kitto was threatened with the knife, police said Kitto pulled out his personally-owned firearm and shot Hooks several times. Police said Kitto did not use his duty weapon.
The woman and Kitto then both independently called 9-1-1at about 5 a.m. and Utica Police responded to the scene.
Hooks was rushed to St. Elizabeth Medical Center, where he succumbed to the gunshot wounds, authorities said.
“It appears to be a justifiable shooting,” Williams stated. “Based on the evidence we have.”
Williams said there is still further forensic evidence to parse through, and it remains a possibility that Kitto could be charged, but that is not expected to happen based on the evidence so far. Police are also looking into whether or not Kitto was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Kitto will be charged with patronizing a prostitute, a misdemeanor, police said. Kitto had roughly $3,000 cash on him, some of which may have come from the Turning Stone, authorities stated.
Kitto has been placed on administrative leave from the Albany Police Department while they conduct an internal investigation, authorities stated. Kitto is scheduled to appear in Utica City Court.
According to state records, Hooks served two stints in state prison. Hooks spent roughly four years in lockup from early 2008 to early 2012 on a charge of attempted second-degree robbery. The Syracuse Post Standard reported at the time that Hooks was accused of kidnapping his girlfriend and forcibly stealing cash from her at knifepoint. Hooks reportedly also forced her to take more money out of a bank account.
Hooks then spent another year and a half in state prison, from April 2015 to November 2016, on a charge of first-degree contempt out of Onondaga County. He was released on parole on Nov. 17, 2016.