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Berks Daily Voice serves Amity Twp, Cumru Twp, Exeter Twp, Maidencreek Twp, Maxatawny Twp, Muhlenberg Twp, Reading, Spring Twp & Wyomissing

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Police & Fire

Deadly Police Shooting Of 'Emotional, Confused' Man Battling Cancer Was Unjust, Daughter Says

Stephen Hughes
Stephen Hughes Photo Credit: Anjie Leigh

It wasn't brain or lung cancer that killed a 62-year-old Berks County man battling both.

Rather, a police shooting on Monday that his daughter is calling a tragic and unjust misunderstanding that could have been avoided and handled differently.

Steven Hughes of Muhlenberg Township was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer early last year and has been undergoing chemotherapy treatment for both ever since.

The treatment often leaves him confused -- according to his daughter, Anjie Leigh Hughes, of Montgomery County -- which was exactly the case Monday afternoon, when he reportedly threatened a relative with a knife.

Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams told Daily Voice that his office is further investigating the situation to determine if the initial 911 call placed by a relative reporting being threatened by Hughes was a wellness check or emergency call.

Police were called to Hughes' house around 2:15 p.m. when the relative reportedly called 911. Arriving officers found Hughes locked inside of a second-floor bedroom in his Wagon Wheel Lane home.

Officers went looking for a key, unlocked the door, and found Hughes standing there with a knife, the DA's office said.

Police told Hughes to drop the knife, but refused, prompting an officer to tase him, the DA's office said. When that didn't work, a second officer shot Hughes in the chest, authorities said.

Hughes was taken to the Reading Hospital trauma unit, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

According to Anjie, it all could have been avoided.

"What the police did was wrong, unjustified, intentionally done in private, and completely preventable," she told Daily Voice. "You could have knocked him over with a stick."

"After his chemo treatments, he sometimes would be confused and emotional for a while," Anjie told Daily Voice.

Anjie maintains that the initial 911 call wasn't meant as an emergency call, rather, a wellness check by someone who she described as a "concerned family member," Anjie said.

A 302 call in Pennsylvania is meant to be a notice of involuntary evaluation and treatment to a psychiatric unit in a community hospital for a person experiencing a mental health crisis, according to the Erie County Department of Human Services.

Anjie says she made Muhlenberg police aware of his condition when she reported him lost during a recent snowstorm.

"We are in the process of obtaining the call to confirm if it was a 9-1-1 call or wellness check," Berks County DA John T. Adams told Daily Voice.

"We are looking into all aspects including any history that the person had with police."

This is an on-going investigation by the Berks County District Attorney's Office. 

Adams intends to hold a press conference at a later date to discuss the investigation in more detail.

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Serves Amity Twp, Cumru Twp, Exeter Twp, Maidencreek Twp, Maxatawny Twp, Muhlenberg Twp, Reading, Spring Twp & Wyomissing

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