DECATUR — Detectives said Monday that the Decatur man shot to death early Sunday was a domestic violence suspect who was killed by an off-duty Illinois State Conservation Police officer after the suspect had smashed his way into the officer’s home in pursuit of a woman who had fled there.
Matthew A. Hollgarth, 21, was pronounced dead at the officer’s house in the 1300 block of Manor Drive from a single bullet wound to the torso after the officer had fired once.
At a news conference Monday, Decatur police refused to name the officer but said they had concluded he acted properly in using deadly force when confronted by Hollgarth, who was described as aggressive and refusing multiple commands to back away.
Criminal Investigations Lt. Cody Moore said the officer had feared for the safety of himself, the battered woman who had hammered on his door around 12:20 a.m. pleading for help, and for several of his own small children that were present in the home.
Hollgarth had followed the woman to the front door and allegedly would not back down even when confronted by the officer who had armed himself. Hollgarth had then smashed down the front door and come in after the woman who said she had earlier been choked and beaten and had fled from a car.
The officer was on the phone with Decatur police the whole time and could be heard giving the suspect multiple commands to leave and warning him he would be shot if he didn’t back off, Moore said.
The officer had retreated through the length of the house as he shielded the woman and his own children and the suspect had continued to act aggressively and kept approaching until he was “within mere feet” of the officer when he was fatally shot.
Hollgarth was not armed but Moore said there was no doubt in the minds of investigators, or Macon County State’s Attorney Jay Scott, that the officer had acted properly. Moore said Scott had reviewed all the facts and concluded no charges will be filed against the officer.
“The law allows for the use of deadly force in those situations whereby a person is in fear of great bodily harm or death of themselves or that of another person,” said Moore.
“In these same circumstances any homeowner would have been justified in the use of deadly force.”
The conservation police will conduct their own internal inquiry into what happened and the officer remains on paid leave.
Moore said there was no connection between the officer, the woman or Hollgarth. “The residence where this shooting death occurred was simply the location where the female victim ran to after she exited the vehicle that she was being abused in,” Moore added.