Patrick L. Robinson, Wayne County District Attorney, announced today that he found the shooting death of James A. Sorrentino by the Pennsylvania State Police to be legally justified.
James A. Sorrentino, age 37, died of a single gunshot wound to the neck on June 25, 2018 at his residence at 40 Balsam Swamp Road in Prompton Borough, Wayne County.
On June 25, 2018 at approximately 2:15 am, Troopers from Troop R, Honesdale responded to 40 Balsam Swamp Road for the report of a domestic assault involving weapons. James A. Sorrentino was recently hospitalized for bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. In the early hours of June 25, 2018, James Sorrentino was acting strangely, pacing nervously, banging and breaking things in the residence. When his brother Charles Sorrentino and his mother Patricia Sorrentino attempted to calm James Sorrentino down, James Sorrentino grabbed a steak knife and in a threatening manner related that the whole family was going to die.
Charles Sorrentino and Patricia Sorrentino escaped the residence. James Sorrentino obtained a shotgun from a gun safe, went onto the porch and fired a shotgun round at his brother and mother. Troopers responded and formed a perimeter around the property. Troopers held the perimeter and gave verbal commands to James Sorrentino, to which he didn’t comply. James Sorrentino was observed acting erratically for several hours, throwing items from the house, carrying weapons around, undressing himself, screaming obscenities and not listening to any commands given by the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) negotiator.
Troopers observed James Sorrentino on the front porch actively loading a magazine of an assault rifle. At approximately 7:13 am, despite commands to stop, the subject raised the long gun and fired his weapon toward Troopers on the perimeter. Three Troopers returned fire. A total of four shots were fired. James Sorrentino was struck by a single gunshot to the neck and died as a result. A search warrant was approved for the Sorrentino residence. A total of 21 weapons were seized and the scene was processed.
The three Troopers who fired shots were interviewed by the Pennsylvania State Police and the Chief County Detective from the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office. On July 26, 2018, the State Police issued their final report. The Chief County Detective’s final report was issued on August 3, 2018.
District Attorney Robinson stated: “I have reviewed the final report that the Pennsylvania State Police issued to me regarding this shooting and I have also thoroughly reviewed the independent report issued to me that was prepared by the Chief County Detective. I hereby find that the State Police shooting of James A. Sorrentino on June 25, 2018 was legally justified. I reach this finding being fully aware that James A. Sorrentino suffered from severe mental health issues. However, it must be understood that family members, neighbors, innocent bystanders and police officers shot by a person with mental health issues are just as dead as those victims shot by people without mental health issues. The State Police acted appropriately in this case and in fact they showed great restraint throughout this entire incident. I sympathize with the family of James A. Sorrentino. The Sorrentino family was extremely cooperative throughout this entire investigation. This was obviously a terrible but unavoidable outcome.