Washington County Deputy Faces Grand Jury Indictment
STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) — In a rarity among law officers who kill someone in the line of duty, a grand jury in Minnesota has indicted a sheriff's deputy on a manslaughter charge in a man's fatal shooting last year.
Washington County Deputy Brian Krook was indicted Friday on a charge of second-degree manslaughter in the April 2018 shooting death of 23-year-old Benjamin Evans of Lake Elmo, Minnesota, about 19 miles (31 kilometers) northeast of Minneapolis.
Evans was killed during a confrontation with deputies responding to a report of a man with a handgun who was making suicidal threats.
District Judge Doug Meslow told the Star Tribune on Monday that the charge alleges that Krook's "culpable negligence" created an unreasonable risk and that Krook consciously took "chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another."
Krook, 31, remains free ahead of his first court appearance, which has not yet been scheduled, the judge said. Krook did not immediately respond to messages left at his home Monday. It was unclear if he has an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Krook becomes the third Minnesota law officer charged in an on-duty killing in recent years. St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter and acquitted by a jury in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile during a 2016 traffic stop. Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was charged and convicted of third-degree murder in the shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond after she called 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home in 2017. Noor was sentenced in June to more than 12 years in prison.
Police officers in the U.S. are rarely charged in on-duty shootings, much less convicted. A database published by The Washington Post shows that since the start of 2015, U.S. police officers have shot and killed between 900 to 1,000 people each year. So far, 487 people have been shot and killed by police in 2019, according to the database.
Since 2005, only 105 nonfederal officers — not including Krook — have been arrested for murder or manslaughter in an on-duty shooting, according to data compiled by Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University. Some of those prosecutions are pending, but to date, only 35 of those 105 officers have been convicted — often for lesser offenses.
According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which investigated the shooting, Evans was holding a gun and told officers he wanted to kill himself. Officers tried to persuade Evans to put down the gun. At one point, Krook fired his gun, striking Evans multiple times. Deputies provided medical aid, but Evans was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The BCA recovered a handgun from near Evans' body. A law enforcement beanbag shotgun also was found at the scene but did not appear to have been fired, according to the agency. Body cameras and dashboard cameras captured parts of the confrontation.
Krook, an eight-year veteran of the sheriff's office at the time of the shooting, was placed on paid administrative leave. Krook remains on paid administrative leave, Chief Sheriff's Deputy Brian Mueller said Monday.
On Monday, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced they are launching a working group and public hearings on police-involved shootings.