St. Louis County Attorney: Use of Deadly Force Justified in Mt. Iron Officer-Involved Shooting

MT. IRON, Minn. – The St. Louis County Attorney’s Office has ruled that the use of deadly force was justified in a December officer-involved shooting in Mt. Iron.

The ruling is in connection to a December 5, 2020 incident, when Deputy Ryan Smith and Deputy Matt Tomsich were involved in a shooting that killed 19-year-old Estavon Dominick Elioff.

According to the report, a two-tier outside review was conducted.

The first in-depth review was performed by Vemon D. Swanum, a retired prosecutor.

The second tier review consisted of Washington County Attorney Peter Orput.

The report states that both outside counsels concluded that the use of deadly force by both deputies “was clearly necessary, justified, and authorized under the law.”

In a Friday press release, St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin wrote, “We must examine the “totality of the circumstances” facing the officer. We cannot rely on information learned after the event. When confronted with the inherent threat of great bodily harm or death to themselves or others, an officer has the right and the duty to use the amount of force reasonably necessary to meet that threat. Based upon the totality of circumstances in the case and the facts as particularly set forth by Mr. Swanum, the current statutory and case law, and taking into consideration the conclusions reached by Mr. Swanum and County Attorney Orput, I too have concluded that the use of deadly force by Deputies Ryan Smith and Matt Tomsich was reasonable, necessary, justified and authorized under Minnesota Statute Section 609.066.”

According to reports, the deputies responded to a report of a shoplifter at the Mountain Iron L&M store.

When the deputies arrived at the store they encountered Elioff outside of the business, at which time the deputies say he refused commands to “stop” and to remove his hand from his jacket pocket. Elioff responded “no” to the deputy and ran to a nearby wooded, brushy area.

When back up arrived, a perimeter was established, and with the assistance of a K9 deputies eventually located Elioff in the woods.

Reports say Elioff refused multiple commands to remove his right hand out of the front pocket of his jacket.

In an effort to use a less-lethal method deputies employed a Taser which reports say did not have any effect on him.

The report says Elioff eventually moved his right hand from his jacket pocket, put his hand out toward Deputy Smith, and acted as if he was “sighting down” and preparing to fire a gun.

Deputy Smith said he saw something in Elioff’s hand and yelled: “gun, gun, gun” at which point both deputies fired at Elioff.

A folding knife was later recovered by the BCA crime scene from the scene of the shooting.

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