The investigation into an officer-involved shooting continues, but Waukesha Police Chief Russell Jack has determined officers responded appropriately with force after having a suicidal man aim a rifle at them.
After a man pointed a firearm at police on Sunday, Jan. 24, three officers shot him in the 200 block of Douglass Avenue, which is just west of Whittier Elementary School and Waukesha South High School, a few blocks north of East Sunset Drive. He is being treated for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds and is expected to recover.
“Based on the preliminary information gathered at this point, I believe that the officers acted within departmental policy and statutory authority,” Jack said at a Jan. 25 news conference, about 10 hours after the incident. “They risked their lives.”
No officers were injured, he said.
Jack said deadly force is warranted for officers if they believe a suspect’s behavior will cause death or great bodily harm to them or another person.
Police did not release the suspect’s or the officers’ names. But Jack did note the officers, who used rifles in the incident, have between two and four years of police service.
An escalating incident
According to police, a woman called police just before 9 p.m. to report her boyfriend had been drinking and was depressed.
She said the man has a history of suicide attempts and that he had a gun, possibly an AR-15 rifle, under his futon.
The man had hung up on her and was not answering her calls. The woman later called police back and said she had finally spoken to him again, and he told her he was going to put a bullet in his head. The man lived with his elderly mother.
As officers approached his home to check on his well-being, they could see the man with a rifle, and he aimed it at the officers, who also noted that the rifle had some kind of optic described as a “green laser.”
The man ignored commands to put down the weapon, and “displayed deadly behavior which imminently threatened the lives of officers and innocent citizens in the area,” Jack said.
Three officers shot the man to stop the threat, Jack said. The man tried to flee, but was taken into custody less than a block away from the initial encounter. The rifle was also recovered.
Officers performed first aid on the man, and he was taken to Waukesha Memorial Hospital.
A woman was also struck in the leg by debris from one of the shots that were fired by police, Jack said. The woman was initially treated by officers and was later transported by family members to Waukesha Memorial Hospital. She received medical treatment and has been released.
Jack said Monday he didn’t know the distance between the officers and the suspect during the shooting, nor how many times the man was hit. He also didn’t know whether the man’s rifle was loaded.
Jack said during the news conference that the man was also involved in a similar incident in 1997 at the same residence. During that incident, Jack said the man was arrested for endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon.
Jack said criminal charges against the man in this week’s incident will be filed, but did not know when that will happen.
The three officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave, a standard practice for the department.
The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department and the New Berlin Police Department assisted at the scene. The Wisconsin State Patrol, the Wisconsin Crime Lab and the District Attorney’s Office are assisting in the investigation.