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DA: Superior police officers' use of force justified in carjacking suspect's death

Officers involved in the shooting death of an armed carjacking suspect were justified in their use of force, according to findings by Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank.

Anderson

Officers involved in the shooting death of an armed carjacking suspect were justified in their use of force, according to findings by Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank.

"The officers followed their training and acted reasonably in self-defense in shooting and causing the death of Mr. Luke Anderson in the face of his armed, erratic and violent threat to the officers and the citizens of Superior," Blank concluded.

Sgt. William Lear and Officer Todd Carlson of the Superior Police Department cooperated with an investigation of the shooting.

According to Blank's summary of the Feb. 17 incident:

Lear and Carlson had responded to Walgreens on Tower Avenue in Superior to a report of an attempted armed carjacking in the parking lot. They were interviewing the victim and witnesses when they heard radio transmissions about the suspect's vehicle being located and his refusal to stop for police.

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A high-speed chase ensued.

Lear and Carlson left Walgreens to assist in the pursuit.

Lear saw the suspect abandon his vehicle and start running, carrying a large revolver, according to Lear's interview after the shooting. Lear told Wisconsin Department of Justice investigators that he thought the suspect, later identified as Anderson, would point the gun at him, but Anderson ran between a house and garage into an open field. Lear chased the suspect on foot and yelled for him to stop, get on the ground and drop the gun.

Anderson didn't respond, but he did slow down a couple of times, Lear told investigators. Lear said he prepared to return fire because he thought the suspect would turn and fire at him. Anderson ran behind some taller grass and began turning toward Lear, which prompted the sergeant to raise his department-issued pistol and fire at the suspect.

Anderson bent over but didn't go down. He tried to stand up and face Lear, who fired additional shots, which caused Anderson to go down.

Lear ran closer and saw Anderson on his back with the revolver in his hand. Anderson moved the revolver under his chin and shot himself.

Carlson grabbed a department-issued rifle and joined the foot pursuit. As he ran up a slight hill, Carlson heard multiple gunshots ahead of him and saw Lear standing at "full draw" and yelling for Anderson to stay down. Lear advised Carlson that Anderson still had a gun.

Anderson was still trying to get up.

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Lear fired additional shots and Carlson fired shots at Anderson's torso. Carlson saw him fall and stop moving, and the officers saw that his hands were empty.

Carlson told investigators that he felt the suspect posed a deadly threat to officers and the public, and he had no other choice but to use deadly force.

Blank said several officers' reports were consistent with Carlson's and Lear's, as were video and audio recordings of the incident when compared to various officers' reports.

Blank said he sympathizes with Anderson's family for their loss, but he said he believes officers prevented the death or serious injury to innocent citizens and officers.

"Officer Carlson and Sgt. Lear were justified in using deadly force against Mr. Luke Anderson," Blank said. "The officers did everything possible to safely apprehend Anderson prior to the shooting. They were faced with a deadly threat and responded reasonably in a manner consistent with their law enforcement training."

Related Topics: CRIMEPOLICESUPERIOR
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