An investigation and review concluded that the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office deputy who shot at an armed carjacking suspect earlier this year in Saginaw used force that was "reasonable and lawful under the circumstances."
St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said in a news release Friday that Deputy Jason Kuhnly fired two shots, though neither struck Scott Michael Jordan, 34, of Duluth, who died of a self-inflected gunshot wound at the scene, according to the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated the incident, and then submitted its findings to Rubin to determine whether the actions were justified under law.
"The use of deadly force immediately after Mr. Jordan's actions were deemed justified and authorized under the law," Rubin said in a news release.
Leading up to the encounter between Jordan and law enforcement Jan. 29, 2021, Jordan pointed a firearm at a woman and her 16-year-old son in the parking lot of Super One Foods at the intersection of U.S. Highway 53 and Midway Road, Duluth.
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The suspect ordered the woman to drive the car to a nearby parking lot. He then ordered the 16-year-old to take over and drive toward the Union Station Bar in Saginaw. The boy drove the vehicle into a snowbank and collided with a trailer, according to a report from Rubin addressed to the BCA and sheriff's office.
A physical altercation occurred between the suspect and the mother, and then Jordan fired a gunshot out the back window while making threats. He then fled into the woods.
According to the report:
Soon after, deputies arrived, including Kuhnly who was accompanied by K-9 Ranger. Kuhnly and Deputy Erick Johnson followed tracks into the woods and found the suspect holding a handgun to his head.
Kuhnly told the suspect to drop the weapon, but the suspect failed to do so.
"Deputy Kuhnly was particularly concerned because less than a year ago, he had encountered an individual who was also putting a gun to his own head, but then very quickly, apparently changed his mind, and pointed the gun and started firing at Deputy Kuhnly and other officers," Rubin wrote.
Kuhnly said he heard a shot fired and saw the suspect's hand move before he started shooting himself. He then fired the two shots, thinking his life was in danger, and yelled for the suspect to drop the gun. Jordan died at the scene.
"Our condolences go out to the family of Scott M. Jordan," Rubin wrote. "This event and the ensuing investigation have been difficult for Mr. Jordan's family, but also for the family of the mother and son, and for the law enforcement officers involved and their families. There is no denying the tragedy of situations such as this."
The medical examiner concluded in February that Jordan died from one gunshot wound on the right side of his head that was fired at close range.
"Examining the 'totality of the circumstances' facing Deputy Jason Kuhnly," Rubin wrote, "and also taking into consideration the conduct of Jordan in the carjacking that led to the final confrontation along with taking into consideration Deputy Jason Kuhnly's experience of less than a year earlier of being fired upon by a person who originally threatened suicide, and especially with the shot being fired first by Jordan, Deputy Kuhnly had the right and duty to use the amount of force reasonably necessary to meet the perceived threat."
Kuhnly was involved in a fatal shooting in May 2019 when he shot and killed a Hermantown man who fled law enforcement. The chase ended with the suspect, Timothy Russell Majchrzak, drawing a gun, pointing it at his head, and then firing toward deputies. Kuhnly then fired multiple times, striking the suspect.
A review of the incident concluded that Kuhnly, along with Deputy Troy Fralich, were justified in their use of force.