Autopsy: Willmar man died of head injury after being shocked with Taser during eviction attempt

21 March 2024

WILLMAR, Minn. — The death of a Willmar man after a sheriff’s deputy shocked him with a Taser during an attempted eviction in January has been ruled a homicide by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office.

According to medical examiners, 75-year-old Michael Yanacheak’s death was caused by blunt-force head injuries suffered when he fell after being shocked with the stun gun.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the matter. The BCA previously identified Yanacheak and Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Deputy Riley Kampsen as the officer who deployed his Taser.

The BCA previously stated two Kandiyohi County sheriff’s deputies and two Willmar police officers went to Yanacheak’s apartment on the morning of Jan. 29 to perform a court-ordered eviction. Law enforcement tried to persuade Yanacheak to open his door, but he did not respond.

After about an hour, the property manager pried open the door and officers entered to find Yanacheak in a bedroom, where law enforcement agencies stated he picked up a kitchen knife and began to walk toward the officers.

According to the BCA, officers attempted to retreat, but at one point, Kampsen deployed his Taser. Sheriff Eric Tollefson stated in an initial news release that officers provided lifesaving medical care at the scene until Yanacheak could be taken to a hospital.

Kampsen and the two Willmar police officers involved were wearing body cameras. The BCA previously said all available video would be reviewed as part of the investigation. Upon completion, the BCA will present its findings to the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office for review.

Yanacheak grew up in Willmar and graduated in 1968 from Willmar High School. He served in the Army during the Vietnam War, according to his obituary. He later worked as a security officer at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul and returned to Willmar following his retirement.

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