The Stevens Point Police officer who shot and killed a man Saturday afternoon was interviewed Sunday by investigators and he remains on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Around 2 p.m. Saturday police responded to the Trig’s County Market parking lot at 1600 Academy Ave., for a report of a stolen car. When the first officer tried to handcuff the suspect, he broke free and fled. Officers fanned out and searched the area, and a different officer spotted the suspect near Stevens Point Area Senior High in the 200 block of Second Street North.
Stevens Point Police Chief Jeff Morris said the officer twice used a Taser and then chemical spray to subdue the suspect. The two men scuffled and the officer shot the man twice in the chest.
The man was pronounced dead at Saint Michael’s Hospital, and the officer was treated for minor injuries.
The officer’s name will be released later this week.
Although there were no witnesses to the shooting, Morris said law enforcement will be able to get a “pretty accurate picture” of what happened, because some people saw at least part of the altercation
The Portage County Sheriff’s Department and the state Department of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting.
Morris said he wanted a separate agency to look at the incident to form a neutral opinion of what happened. “We want to get an outside, objective perspective on this and we want to find out the truth,” Morris said.
There was no identification found with the suspect, and Portage County Coroner Scott Rifleman said he hoped next of kin would come forward to help identify the man.
Morris would not say if any weapons were found with the suspect, but said police officers are trained to use deadly force only in defense of their life or a civilian’s life.
Police train seven times a year on the shooting range and are put through training to simulate real life scenarios, Morris said. “To fire your weapon, the officer has to feel that the person has the means and the intent to do great bodily harm. It has to be more than a fist fight,” Morris said.
Morris said there were multiple times for the suspect to surrender peacefully, and the officers that responded showed restraint throughout the situation. He said the officer who fired the shots will undergo a mandatory counseling session and additional sessions for him and his family are available.
The neighborhood near the shooting was quiet Sunday afternoon. The police tape was gone and neighbors were inside.
Several people said they were out when the shooting occurred and only learned about it Saturday night.