Duluth Police Officer Charged In Shooting; Victim’s Atty. Wants Attempted Murder Charge

"It's obviously a grave charge that I’m referencing, but that's the fact here, that's what happened,” according to Andrew Poole, attorney for victim Jared Fyle, 23.

DULUTH, Minn. – Duluth Attorney Andrew Poole spoke out Monday about felony charges filed against Duluth Police Officer Tyler Leibfried, 28, who shot his unarmed client, Jared Fyle, 23, through his apartment door during a domestic assault call on Sept. 12.

“The facts are this is a case where Mr. Fyle was in his own home behind a closed locked door and is shot in his back; that shooting was a purposeful act,” Poole said.

This is the first time in the Duluth Police Department’s history that an officer is facing felony charges for firing his weapon on the job.  St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin also says it has never happened with any other local law enforcement agency through his office.

“You’re supposed to be protected when you’re behind the locked door of your own home,” Poole said.

According to the criminal complaint, Leibfried is accused of firing his weapon six times through the door of Fyle’s downtown apartment of Kingsley Heights Apartments on West First Street.

Officer Involved Shooting

2015 photo on City of Rosemount’s website congratulating Officer Tyler Leibfried on his new job with the Duluth Police Department.

Fyle was struck one time in his back.  The bullet remains lodged in his shoulder area because the surgical procedure to remove it is considered high risk, according to Poole.

The complaint says one second after the first four shots were fired and before the final two shots, Fyle is heard on body camera video yelling “Stop, stop, stop” and  “Stop, please stop. Ow.”

The woman involved in the argument told police on scene before the shooting that she was not assaulted, according to court records.

The complaint says Leibfried told investigators he was approaching the apartment to talk to Fyle and retrieve belongings for the woman. Leibfried went on to say he became nervous seeing the narrow hallway to the apartment relating it to a “fatal funnel” — a term used from his military training.

Leibried then mistakenly thought he heard two gunshots coming from the apartment, according to the complaint.  So did another officer on scene who told authorities he did not shoot because he wasn’t sure where the sounds of shots actually came from.

Fyle told authorities he never heard police announce they were they, and the shooting happened after he kicked the door to make sure it was closed before locking the deadbolt and turning to walk away.

Meanwhile, Poole says while he’s thankful for the felony charges of one count of intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety and one count of reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality, he believes the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office should really hand down an attempted murder charge.

“When you’re using lethal force against somebody, what other conclusion can you make,” Poole said. “It’s severe, it’s obviously a grave charge that I’m referencing, but that’s the fact here, that’s what happened.”

St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin had the following to say after having former prosecutor and retired Assistant St. Louis County Attorney Vernon Swanum review this case:

“I have reviewed the independent review conducted by Mr. Swanum. After the review of the file myself and his report, I reached the same conclusion as Mr. Swanum did. Mainly, that Tyler Leibfried’s conduct fails the “objective reasonable officer” standard and that it was not an objectively reasonable use of deadly force. Therefore, it was not, under Minnesota Statute Section 609.06 and 609.066 justifiable under the circumstances,” Rubin said in a prepared statement to the media.

“I have concluded and have alleged in the attached criminal complaint that the conduct of Tyler Leibfried rises to the level of the felony offenses of Intentional Discharge of a Firearm that Endangers Safety of Another, and Reckless Discharge of a Firearm in a Municipality,” Rubin added.

Leibfried is a five-year veteran of the department.  A mugshot is not available until he is summoned to appear for arraignment at a date yet to be determined. 

Each of the two charges has a maximum sentence of two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine.

Leibfried remains on paid administrative leave.  His employment status will be determined after an internal investigation by the Duluth Police Department is completed in the next seven to 10 days. Police Chief Mike Tusken is expected to speak on this case after the departmental review.

Meanwhile, Police Union President Dan Boese released the following statement:

“Situations involving Officer’s use of force are difficult for the Officer, department, involved individuals, and the
community.”

“Officer Leibfried is a dedicated police officer who serves the Duluth community with compassion and pride. The Duluth
Police Union continues to support Officer Leibfried through the due process of the internal investigation being conducted
by the Duluth Police Department. We have not seen all of the details of the investigation and it would be premature to
comment on the incident itself.”

“As recognized by the United States Supreme Court, the ‘reasonableness’ of an officer’s particular use of force ‘must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight’ and the ‘reasonableness’ must allow for the fact that ‘police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments-in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving-about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.’  As with any person accused of a crime, he is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”

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