The city of Duluth is no longer paying a police officer who has been criminally charged with shooting an unarmed man through the door of a downtown apartment last fall.
Tyler Leibfried has not been paid since Jan. 15, according to payroll records released to the News Tribune this week after several months of requests for public information on the officer's employment status.
Leibfried does, however, technically remain employed by the city, as a complaint stemming from the Sept. 12 shooting has yet to be fully resolved. Under state law, any decision to fire or otherwise discipline an employee is not public until "final disposition" of the action, which includes union arbitration rights.
Leibfried, 29, of Hermantown, was placed on standard administrative leave after wounding 23-year-old Jared Fyle at the Kingsley Heights Apartments. An investigation resulted in two felony charges — intentional and reckless discharge of a firearm — filed in State District Court on Nov. 30.
The records show that Leibfried, who had a gross salary of $84,938 in 2020, was paid approximately $28,000 in salary and $11,000 in benefits in the roughly four months between the shooting and his removal from the payroll.
The News Tribune had repeatedly requested information on Leibfried's status after the Duluth Police Department publicly announced that he had violated use-of-force policies and said he would remain "off-duty indefinitely." But officials would not disclose whether he was still receiving a paycheck.
The city in early March provided a single-page "payroll history report," but refused to provide more detailed timesheet records sought by the News Tribune in accordance with the state's Government Data Practices Act. Officials argued the records would reveal the "subject and nature of the complaint" and disciplinary action taken against Leibfried that has yet to be finalized.
The release of more comprehensive records this week came after the city and newspaper jointly requested an opinion from the Minnesota Department of Administration's Data Practices Office, which conducted an informal resolution process earlier this month.
State law makes public a government employee's "payroll time sheets or other comparable data that are only used to account for employee's work time for payroll purposes, except to the extent that release of time sheet data would reveal the employee's reasons for the use of sick or other medical leave or other not public data."
A five-year veteran of the Duluth police force, Leibfried was previously docked 12 hours of vacation time and received a six-month extension of his probationary period when he crashed his squad car after driving "in excess of 70 (mph)" down First Street in the downtown and East Hillside area, according to personnel records previously provided by the city.
He also received letters of reprimand for a "vehicle use/operation/care" violation in August 2017 and an "unintentional discharge" of his patrol rifle in November 2017.
Leibfried is due back in court July 19 and could stand trial later this year.