Officer cleared in West Duluth shooting
Duluth police Officer Jeffrey Keast ticketed 17-year-old Joseph "Joey'' Carl for underage consumption the night of Aug. 5, then gave the boy a ride home after a breath test indicated that the teenager was legally drunk. Carl was cooperative throu...
Duluth police Officer Jeffrey Keast ticketed 17-year-old Joseph "Joey'' Carl for underage consumption the night of Aug. 5, then gave the boy a ride home after a breath test indicated that the teenager was legally drunk. Carl was cooperative throughout his interactions with Keast before he was released to his father.
That's what Keast, 30, told investigators, adding that before leaving Carl's Norton Park home that night, he walked over to the couch where the teenager was sitting, shook his hand, patted him on the shoulder and told him it would be OK.
But things didn't turn out that way. Minutes later, Keast shot and killed the teenager.
On Wednesday, Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay briefed the media on how the shooting occurred and how the Scott County Attorney -- the independent reviewer of the case -- determined that Keast was justified in using deadly force after Carl attacked his squad car with a baseball bat.
Keast was summoned back to the home at 11:37 p.m. and arrived at 11:42 p.m. on Aug. 5 -- just minutes after he gave Carl a ride home -- when the teenager started breaking windows and other items in his house with a baseball bat. Keast pulled his squad up to Carl's street and the teenager popped out from behind a parked vehicle and immediately attacked the squad with a baseball bat.
The juvenile struck Keast's squad car with 10 violent swings of the bat, shattering the windshield and breaking out the driver's-side window where the officer was belted into his seat. Keast backed up 210 feet trying to get away from the bat attack when he sideswiped a parked vehicle and came to an abrupt stop.
Witnesses said they heard Carl yelling: "Come on, you pigs ... Come on, bring it on f------------. I'll take all you f------------ on and put every one of you out of your misery."
Witnesses also described Carl's voice as "demonish."
The bat shattered the driver's-side window and just missed Keast's head, a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension report indicated. Keast told investigators he believed Carl was trying to kill him. The officer had his gun drawn as Carl swung the bat. On the video Keast can be heard yelling, "Put it down! Put it down!" Then there's a pop.
Keast fired one shot from his Smith & Wesson Military and Police .40-caliber handgun, striking Carl under his left arm pit. Keast told investigators that Carl still had the bat in one hand while grabbing his chest with the other hand. The officer twice tells the teenager to drop the bat. He said Carl dropped the bat, staggered and fell to the ground.
The entire altercation lasted 27 seconds.
Keast immediately requested an ambulance. While providing first aid and CPR to Carl, Ramsay said Keast can be heard saying: "Hang in there, partner." The teenager died at the scene.
In a five-page report submitted to Ramsay on Tuesday, Scott County Attorney Pat Ciliberto wrote that the bullet entry wound was in an area that would have been exposed if a right-handed batter had the bat in a cocked position ready to swing again through the open window.
Ramsay initially turned the investigation of the shooting over to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, who would have turned their reports over to St. Louis County Attorney Melanie Ford for a charging decision. However, to avoid the perception of a conflict of interest, Ford asked the Scott County Attorney's Office to review the case. Ciliberto wrote that Keast "appropriately utilized the use of deadly force,'' under Minnesota law.
Carl's mother, Melissa Dardar, of Grandview, Wis., was reached by phone Wednesday but declined to comment. Carl's father, Tony, does not have a listed phone number and could not be reached.
Toxicology tests indicated that Carl had a blood-alcohol content of .115 and a urine drug screen tested positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive substance found in the cannabis plant.
The News Tribune filed a data practice request to obtain a copy of the videotape from Keast's squad car. Police released copies of the videotape on Wednesday and played it to the media during a news conference in City Hall.
Ramsay said 14 witnesses were interviewed in connection with the shooting.
"This shooting highlights the difficult, dangerous and sometimes tragic situations our police officers face,'' Ramsay said after the news conference. "It has caused heartache for many and ended in a way no one involved wanted it to. This tragedy will forever change the lives of the Carl family, the officers involved, and our community.''
Ramsay said Keast's "professionalism and adherence to department policy were the result not only of his training and experience but also reflect his character and dedication to our profession.''
Keast joined the Duluth force in September of 2008.
Under departmental policy involving officer-involved shootings, Keast has been on a paid administrative leave since the shooting. Deputy Police Chief Mike Tusken, head of the uniformed division, said Keast will return to patrol duties on Friday.
"It's been very difficult on him, but he's made progress and he's ready to return to work,'' Tusken said.