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Superior police officer won't be charged for striking man lying in the road

District Attorney Mark Fruehauf concludes evidence does not support that Officer Joshua Sislo knew or had reason to know he had been involved in an accident causing injuries.

File: Superior Police Department.jpg
Superior Police Department squads sit outside the Government Center in 2018.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — A police officer investigated after running over a man lying on North Eighth Street in February won’t be charged in connection with the incident.

In a charging decision released by Douglas County District Attorney Mark Fruehauf, he stated: “It is this writer’s conclusion that the evidence does not support that a crime was committed by Officer Joshua Sislo.”

On Feb. 19, around 9:36 p.m., several Superior police officers were dispatched to the intersection of North Eighth Street and Tower Avenue on a report of a man lying in the road with injuries. He was found to be unresponsive but breathing. The man, who has never been identified, was in critical condition at the time of the incident.

According to the district attorney, a woman reported that she and her boyfriend had been driving south on Tower Avenue and turned left onto North Eighth Street; she observed what she thought was a black bag in the road and they swerved to avoid hitting it. When they drove by, she realized it was a person and called 911.

Sislo, who had been searching for a man reportedly looking into vehicles in the 1000 block of Tower Avenue, was one of the officers to respond to the call.

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Sislo turned right off of Tower Avenue and recalled hitting something that he believed was a chunk of ice. He reported checking his side mirror after the impact but did not see anything so he continued on his patrol.

Realizing he had been on Eighth Street and passed the police department’s Eighth Street building, Sislo informed his supervisor that he may have been involved in the incident and asked his supervisor to review the video footage from the dash-mounted camera in his squad car.

“The video played at regular speed shows the squad vehicle turning right from Tower Avenue onto North Eighth Street; it appears to hit or run over something causing a noise and causing the squad car to bounce,” Fruehauf wrote. “Just prior to the impact, it is difficult to see what the vehicle impacted.”

Watching the video in slow motion, about one second before the impact, there appears to be a person lying in the intersection, Fruehauf stated, noting the man appears at the bottom right corner of the footage as the vehicle makes the turn.

“The person appears to be laying on the ground and wearing dark clothing,” Fruehauf stated. “He is not moving. At this time, it is unknown how this person came to be laying in the intersection prior to this incident.”

Fruehauf concluded that Sislo’s statements about the incident were consistent with the evidence gathered during the investigation.

“It is also worth noting that Officer Sislo was the first person to bring to his supervisors attention that he may have been involved in this and caused his supervisor to review the squad camera footage from earlier that night,” Fruehauf wrote.

The district attorney concluded: “The evidence does not support that Officer Sislo knew or had reason to know that he had been involved in an accident involving injury to a person at the time of the incident. As such, no criminal charge will be filed in connection with this matter.”

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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