January 5, 2013

Parents: Former Marine killed by sheriff's deputy had PTSD

PLATTSBURGH — Dusty Michael Clark suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, his mother says.

The Altona man, 28, was shot and killed by Clinton County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason R. Winters on Dec. 30, 2012, after Dusty threatened him with a knife and wouldn’t back down, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

He was diagnosed in 2009 at a Veteran’s Affairs clinic in Albany but was not receiving treatment at the time of his death, said his mother, Sheila Clark of Altona.

“At first, in my heart, I was so hurt (that Dusty died that way),” she said. “In retrospect, I am thinking my son had a flashback” when he grabbed the knife.

The day her son died, Sheila said, one of her brothers shared some information that Dusty had confided to him.

He had been among Marines who responded after the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that rocked the world on Dec. 26, 2004. 

“He had to take bodies out of the water,” she said. “Dead children.”

He had still agonized over that, her brother had told her.

Winters and Sheriff’s Department Deputy Andrew J. Bertrand had gone to the home to serve Dusty with an arrest warrant after he failed to appear in Altona Town Court on charges of unlicensed operation and unsafe passing, neither of which is a felony.

In the kitchen of the home, Dusty grabbed what his mother described as a steak knife and ignored several warnings from Winter, who was prepared to use a taser if Dusty didn’t drop the weapon and back off, according to Clinton County Sheriff David Favro.

The taser failed to subdue Dusty, and when the man continued to threaten Winters, the sheriff said, the officer drew his weapon, warned Clark again and then shot him.

Preliminary reports said Winters fired two or three times, striking Dusty in the chest area.

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