Nine Months, Three Officer-Involved Shootings

By KBJR News 1

March 23, 2011 Updated Mar 23, 2011 at 6:47 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is continuing to investigate Monday's officer-involved shooting in West Duluth.

That incident marks the third time, in less than a year, that a Northland law enforcement officer has fired his or her weapon in the line of duty.

It was June when Minnesota State Trooper Travis Pearson shot and killed 66-year-old Donnie Joe Lira in front of his Cherry Township home.

Then, in August, Duluth police officer Jeffrey Keast shot and killed 17-year-old Joey Carl after the teen attacked the officer's squad car with a baseball bat.

Both officers were later cleared of any wrongdoing in the incidents, but one thing's for sure, those experiences will stick with them.

"You are never going to be the same person you were," Duluth PD Patrol Sergeant Dan Fogarty said. "After you pull that trigger and took someone's life, you've changed, the world has changed."

Fogarty shot and killed a suspect in December of 1999, as the man threatened his wife with a knife. He has also since been cleared in that incident.

Former FBI agent Larry Brubaker says he sees a pattern in law enforcement involved shootings.

"The common denominator that I've found," Brubaker said, "is that the individual puts that police officer in a situation where he has no other alternative but to shoot."

On Monday, Duluth police officer Angela Robertson may have found herself in that situation as she fired her weapon.

Police reports say 25-year-old Samson Waddell assaulted Officer Robertson and then tried to take the weapon from her partner, officer Steven Latour.

"Obviously, if someone is trying to disarm you, that's pretty serious," Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said. "It sounds like the scene was pretty chaotic."

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is continuing interviews with the officers involved and talking with witnesses.

When that investigation is complete, the St. Louis County Attorney's office will determine what, if any, charges should be filed.

In the Joey Carl case, former St. Louis County Attorney Melanie Ford asked for outside help to avoid a conflict of interest.

Current St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin says he plans to look at the investigative information before making a decision on whether to seek outside help.

Posted by Zach Schneider