ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — The investigation has ended and Blair County District Attorney Pete Weeks released the findings from Pennsylvania State Police in the “use of lethal force” incident that saw the tragic death of Blair Corrections Officer Rhonda Russell on Nov. 17, 2021.

According to Weeks, Altoona Police Sergeant George Bistline’s use of deadly force was legally justifiable based on all evidence in the investigation.

It was stated that Bistline felt that inmate Christopher Aikens was not only a threat to himself and Officer Russell but would continue with his escape unless he was stopped.

Weeks stated that if Bistline was still alive, they would not file charges in connection to his use of lethal force. Bistline, unfortunately, died roughly three months after the incident from natural causes.

It was revealed that Aikens had tried to escape the Blair County Prison just days prior to his court date, but a communication breakdown left the transport team unaware of his attempts, according to the District Attorney.

On Nov. 17, 2021 inmate Aikens was in Altoona’s Central Court when he attempted to take Russell’s gun from the holster after claiming he needed to use the bathroom again. During the struggle, Sergeant Bistline, who was in street clothes but had his service weapon, fired at Aikens.

“I’m not going to get a second opening. I knew I had to fire the shot. I knew I could hit his shoulder.” Bistline told state police when interviewed just hours after the incident.

According to state police, Aikens moved Officer Russell and the bullet hit her in the head.

Aikens was taken back into custody and handcuffed to a bench as Russell was rushed to UPMC Altoona where she was later pronounced dead.

According to the release from the DA, Aikens said he did it because he knew at 54 years old he was facing jail time to the point that he may die in a cell. It was noted that Aikens went to the bathroom and was astonished that only Russell was there looking over 7 inmates. He saw an opportunity to escape and tried to take it.

More on Officer Russell’s tragic death:

Altoona Mayor Matt Pacifico released a statement immediately after the press conference and stated there is still an internal investigation being conducted by the City of Altoona.

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Aikens is facing 2nd-degree murder charges for his involvement.