No charges for Jackson County sheriff’s deputies involved in shooting death
JACKSON CO., Wis. — There will be no charges for the three Jackson County deputies involved in the shooting death of a La Crosse man in January.
The district attorney released the findings of his investigation Tuesday after reviewing the division of criminal investigation’s report on the officer-involved shooting.
On January 25, three Jackson County sheriff deputies, Sgt. Evan Mazur, Deputy Mike Bartlett and Deputy Aaron Johnson, shot and killed 50-year-old Donovan Scheurich, after he threatened officers and fired his weapon.
Sheriff Duane Waldera said this was a tragedy, but is a classic case of suicide by cop.
Near the small town of Millston, just off the interstate in Jackson County, sheriff’s deputies responded to 911 calls from Donovan Scheurich just before 9 p.m..
“It’s very desolate, very back in the woods,” Waldera said. “He brought them to that spot for a reason and it’s scary.”
Jackson County dispatch has records of two calls with Scheurich that night — one 10 minutes long, the next about 50.
In the 911 call, Scheurich said, “I wanna die.”
Dispatch responded, “We don’t want you to. We don’t want to hurt you.”
“I want a shootout,” Scheurich said on the call. “I’m going to put the gun in my hand, point it at them and pull the trigger, then they’re going to shoot me.”
Toxicology reports show Scheurich had a very high blood alcohol level that night and marijuana in his system.
He threatened to snipe officers.
“Listen, I’m going to annihilate every one of these cops sitting there,” Scheurich said on the call.
Fox and Waldera said the sheriff’s deputies who showed up to the scene parked 75 to 100 yards from Scheurich’s car.
Deputies attempted to negotiate with Scheurich to drop his weapon, but he fired. Fox said because it was so dark, they are unable to determine where he shot the rifle.
For about 20 minutes, deputies continued to try to talk him down.
“Why do you think I’m out here?” Scheurich said on the 911 call. “You’re going to shoot me and that’s what I want.”
“Despite what I think a very persistent and exemplary effort to gain his cooperation by Deputy Karie Gillette, ultimately Scheurich was observed through binoculars pointing a rifle at deputies,” Fox said.
Fox said that at that point, Sgt. Mazur fired a shot, and deputies Mike Bartlett and Aaron Johnson followed. They fired 11 shots total, four hitting Scheurich.
“Mr. Scheurich got his wish,” Fox said. “His life ended out there on the road.”
Jackson County district attorney Gerald Fox said the deputies did all they could to diffuse the situation, and followed proper procedure.
“I determine that these deputies acted in full compliance with the legal requirements for the use of deadly force, followed their departmental policies and it was solely Mr. Scheurick’s actions that brought this incident to such a tragic and totally avoidable conclusion.”
The administrative investigation also found the deputies acted according to procedure, and they’re now back to work after an administrative leave.
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