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10 years for man shot by Hibbing police

Che Jones

A Rochester, Minn., man who was shot by Hibbing police after reportedly striking another man over the head with a gun and pointing the weapon at officers has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Che Nathaniel Jones, 25, received the sentence Thursday from 6th Judicial District Judge Mark Starr in State District Court in Hibbing.

The judge accepted the terms of a plea agreement reached last month between Jones and the St. Louis County Attorney's Office, imposing the below-guideline sentence that was mutually recommended.

Jones was shot by Capt. Kurt Metzig and Officer Cody Loewen of the Hibbing Police Department during a foot pursuit after authorities said he struck a random victim over the head with a gun on Jan. 13, 2017. The shooting was later deemed justified by the county attorney's office.

Jones on May 21 entered a Norgaard plea to felony counts of first- and second-degree assault and being a felon in possession of firearm. Prosecutors dropped another seven charges under the agreement.

A Norgaard plea allows a defendant to assert that he is unable to recall all of the facts of the incident due to intoxication or amnesia while acknowledging that there is sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction.

Jones was reported to have a blood-alcohol concentration nearly four times the legal limit for driving during the incident.

With good behavior and credit for time served, Jones could be released from prison within six years and spend the remainder of the sentence on supervised release.

According to court documents:

Several 911 callers reported a possible assault involving a firearm at the front door of a residence on the 2900 block of Third Street.

Three Hibbing police officers arrived on scene within minutes of the first call, finding Jones standing over the victim and holding the gun. They reported that the suspect ignored commands to drop the weapon and ran from the scene.

With two officers in pursuit, Jones made his way around the house and into an alley. Ignoring additional commands, he continued across the street before tripping and falling to the ground.

Police said Jones was told to stay down, but instead struggled to his feet, stepped into the middle of the alley and pointed the gun at the two officers. Both officers reported that they heard a gunshot and returned fire at Jones.

The defendant suffered wounds to his right chest, left arm and left cheek. He was taken to a Duluth hospital for emergency treatment. His blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.30 a short time afterward.

Police recovered a Colt Python .357 Magnum revolver. Two cartridges had been fired and four remained in the gun. They said it was later determined that Jones stole the firearm from a friend's father in St. Charles, Minn.

A small plastic bag containing a substance that was later tested and found to be a mixture of cocaine and heroin also was recovered from Jones' pocket.

The victim received treatment at Fairview Range Medical Center in Hibbing for "severe but non-life-threatening" blunt trauma injuries to the top of his head, mouth and left eye.

In a statement, the victim told police that he was clearing ice in the alley when he was approached by Jones, who appeared intoxicated and stated that he was cold and not properly dressed for the weather. The victim said he brought Jones, who he did not know, into the garage to warm up and then into the residence to give him a jacket.

The victim stated that he and Jones then had a verbal argument and he asked the defendant to leave. While outside, Jones pointed the firearm at him and fired a round, missing the victim, before striking him with the weapon.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which handled the investigation, reported that agents found a bullet in a stairwell inside the victim's residence.