DA finds officers justified in fatal shooting of off-duty Stillwater corrections officer outside his WI home

21 July 2023

No charges will be filed against the two law enforcement officers who shot and killed a Minnesota corrections officer after an investigation determined their lethal use of force was justified and done in self defense.

Tyler Abel, 42, was shot outside his western Wisconsin home June 3 after his wife called 911 shortly before 11 p.m. to report he was “out of control” and “threatening to bring his AR out,” apparently referring to a rifle.

New Richmond police officers and St. Croix County sheriff’s deputies responded to the home in the 1900 block of County Trunk Highway CC in Star Prairie Township, Wis, in St. Croix County. Abel worked at the Stillwater prison.

More details about the shooting were revealed in the findings of St. Croix County District Attorney Karl E. Anderson in a letter he sent to Polk County Sheriff Brent Waak this week. Anderson wrote he believed he would be impartial, but asked Polk County District Attorney Jeffrey Kemp to also review the shooting out of “an abundance of caution.” Kemp came to the same conclusion about the shooting being legally justified.

On that night, Anderson wrote in the letter, 911 dispatchers asked the woman if her husband had hurt anybody and she said, “not yet.”

During the conversation, the woman reported her husband had said, “I’m going to bring my AR out and I’m going to get shot.”

While she was on the phone with 911, Abel brought out his AR-15, but his wife was able to get the weapon away from him.

When law enforcement arrived, the woman was outside but said her two children were still inside, sleeping upstairs and more firearms were inside the home. Officers saw Abel through an open door in the garage, and told him to surrender and that he was under arrest.

“You are going to have to shoot me and kill me,” he replied. According to the investigation, Abel repeated similar statements multiple times.

At one point, when officers asked if he had a firearm, he responded, “You’re (expletive) right, I have a (expletive) AR loaded with (expletive) 20 clips.” He also told one of the officers, “I’m going to (expletive) kill you.”

Officers warned Abel they were going to send in a K-9. He told them he didn’t care and would shoot the dog. When they saw Abel standing in the window with a hunting rifle, they canceled the K-9 deployment.

During all of this, officers were planning ways to safely get the children out of the house, including using a ladder to enter the second story where the kids were sleeping, the investigation showed.

After numerous attempts to get him to surrender, about 15 minutes after authorities arrived, Abel said, “Let’s get this over with” and walked out of the house with a rifle in his hands.

Ignoring commands to drop the rifle, he instead pointed it at officers. New Richmond Officer Katie Chevrier and St. Croix County Sheriff Sgt. Chase Durand fired a combined total of four rounds from their patrol rifles, striking Abel. He fell to the ground and was pronounced dead.

The rifle Abel carried was later identified as a .22 caliber pellet gun with a wooden stock, metal barrel and rifle scope.

In reviewing the body camera footage, Anderson said that despite the “extremely tense situation, responding officers acted diligently and professionally.” They attempted to negotiate with Abel and “resolve the situation peacefully.”

Despite the gun later being identified as a pellet rifle, the officers who fired were “reasonable in believing that Abel was about to use lethal force on them” and therefore “justified in using lethal force for self defense and the defense of other officers,” Anderson concluded.

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