“This event has had a huge impact on our department. Officers who were involved will never be the same. We train for this but hope it never happens in our community.”-Lincoln County Sheriff Jeff Jaeger
Foto News Staff
Last week, Lincoln County Sheriff Jeff Jaeger was informed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice that the investigation into a July 26, 2016 Officer Involved Death has been concluded.
In a report received from the Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General Roy Korte concluded that all of the officers involved acted appropriately and that no criminal charges are warranted.
“This was a tragic event for all involved and we are pleased that we now have some closure,” Sheriff Jaeger said. “We believed all along that our Deputies along with those officers from Langlade County and Antigo acted appropriately and out of necessity.”
On July 26, 2016, Scott Minard was fatally shot by a law enforcement officer after he shot at a police officer in Antigo. He led officers on a high speed chase into Lincoln County, and remained armed during a stand-off on Hillview Road that lasted more than an hour.
“After consideration of all the available evidence, I have concluded that there is no basis to believe that any law enforcement officer who shot at Mr. Minard, whether or not they fired the fatal shot, committed any crime,” Korte stated in his report on the incident.
An independent investigation was conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the request of the Lincoln County Sheriff immediately after the shooting.
In his report on the incident, Korte lays out the events that led up to Minard being shot by law enforcement. The following information is taken from Korte’s summary of those events.
Shots fired in Antigo
On July 26, Antigo Police Officer Joseph Husnick observed a parked red van with expired plates. Officer Husnick knew from prior incidents that the red van was associated with drug activity.
Officer Husnick drove to the residence of the registered van owner and observed the red van parked there along with a white Acura SUV. The license plate on the Acura did not match the vehicle. The plates were actually expired and registered to a truck owned by Scot Minard with a residence in Vilas County. It was later determined the Acura had been stolen in Vilas County sometime between July 18 and July 20, 2016.
At 6:15 a.m., Officer Husnick observed Minard get into the Acura and drive past him. Officer Husnick then initiated a traffic stop on Minard. The driving away of Minard and subsequent events, including a subsequent chase, standoff, and shooting of Minard, were captured on Officer Husnick’s squad video.
At 6:16 a.m. and after about two blocks, Minard pulled the vehicle over. As Officer Husnick got out of his squad, Minard can been seen leaning out the driver side window with a handgun and firing two shots at Officer Husnick. Two shell casings were recovered at the scene that were later matched to a stolen .22 caliber handgun recovered near Minard.
High speed chase
After firing the shots at Officer Husnick, Minard drove away at a high rate of speed. Officer Husnick reported the shooting, requested assistance, and began to pursue Minard. Officer Husnick’s squad camera recorded the entire pursuit. The chase proceeded on Highway 64 at a high rate of speed, often over 100 miles per hour, and sometimes exceeding 120 miles per hour. There was other traffic on the highway and Minard was passing vehicles.
At 6:28 a.m. at the Pine River Bridge, a Lincoln County deputy deployed a metal stop stick across the road to deflate the tires of Minard’s vehicle. The chase continued for about another minute and Minard then turned onto dead end Hillview Road and stopped. Officers made repeated demands for Minard to show his hands and get out of the vehicle but he refused. At 6:34 a.m., Mr. Minard got out of the vehicle and walked around to the front of the vehicle.
Officers observed him carrying a long-gun and made repeated demands for Minard to drop the gun.
Between 6:34 a.m. and approximately 7:50 a.m., officers were in regular contact with Minard and asked him to drop the gun, show his hands and surrender. He refused to comply with all demands. He carried the long gun around pointed at the ground. Although he was armed and had previously shot at an officer, no law enforcement officer attempted to shoot him even though they had opportunities to do so. This was consistent with law enforcement training as until the end of the stand off Mr. Minard did not point a firearm at officers or fire at them.
During the stand off, officers advised Minard that they did not want to hurt him, and encouraged and commanded him to surrender. Minard stated that he knew he was in a stolen car, that he could not put his gun down as it had gone too far, and that he could not go back to prison.
Lincoln County Sgt. Randy Ruleau, who was the primary person to talk with Minard, and the closest to him, stated that three different times Minard stated that law enforcement was going to have to shoot him.
About an hour into the stand-off, Minard asked officers for some water. Officers loaded water into an armored vehicle and prepared to deliver it to him.
At approximately 7:50 a.m. the armored vehicle started to approach Minard’s location. Squad video shows him standing up and moving forward on the passenger side of the vehicle. His long gun is initially pointed down but he then begins to raise the gun up in the direction of where officers are located. Deputy Ruleau states that as Mr. Minard started moving toward officers, he stated something to the effect of “Is this enough to make you shoot me.” As Minard moved forward and raised his long gun, various shots are fired by law enforcement officers.
Minard retreated back to the front of the car and the shooting from law enforcement stopped. He then quickly reemerged on the driver’s side of the car and again appeared to be walking toward the back of the car in the direction of the officers. More shots are fired by law enforcement after Minard re-emerged on the driver’s side of the vehicle. Again, he had his long gun up and it appears that he fires at officers. The video shows what appears to be smoke emanating from his position and there is a sound of a different type of weapon. Law enforcement witnesses report they heard a shotgun being fired. When the long gun was later recovered from underneath Minard’s body, it was identified as a 12 gauge shotgun and had a partially ejected casing in the breech.
A total of 26 rounds were fired by four law enforcement officers from several locations and distances. The autopsy report indicated that one bullet struck Minard in the left arm pit area and traveled through both lungs and the aorta, which is the cause of death.
An analysis of Minard’s blood found that it contained a number of substances including alcohol, cocaine, hydrocodone, THS, ampethamine, methamphetamine, fentanyl and opiates.
“There is direct evidence from multiple persons that Minard was suicidal both before and during the encounter on July 26, 2016,” Korte stated in his report.
“He has previously indicated a desire to die and talked about shooting at law enforcement in order to be shot and killed. He also expressed an intent not to return to prison and if he encountered any law enforcement officers, he wanted them to shoot and kill him. Finally, he stated that he would not surrender and that officers would have to shoot him.
“Mr. Minard’s death is tragic,” Korte added. “He seemed to have struggled with many problems and expressed a desire to end his life. It is unfortunate that his conduct resulted in officers having to deal with the reality, and bear the burden, of being placed in a situation where they had to use deadly force. Based on the total facts and circumstances, it is my legal conclusion that the conduct of the officers on July 26, 2016, were in the performance of their duties and there is no basis to conclude that any of their conduct was criminal.”
During a press conference Tuesday morning, Jaeger indicated “Officers showed unbelievable restraint and compassion for Mr. Minard” during the events of the July 26 incident.
“We believed all along our deputies along with those of the Langlade County Sheriff’s Office and the Antigo Police Department acted appropriately justifiably and out of necessity,” he added.
“This event has had a huge impact on our department. Officers who were involved will never be the same. We train for this but hope it never happens in our community.”
Jaeger indicated the deployment of metal stop strips by a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant was successful in deflating the two front tires of Minard’s vehicle. By deflating the tires, Minard’s vehicle was hampered from continuing to travel at the excessive rate of speed reached during the pursuit with law enforcement.
“Had Mr. Minard continued to travel at the rate of speed he was traveling prior to the deployment of the stop strips, the outcome of this incident could have been much worse. His vehicle came to a stop approximately five miles from the Merrill city limits. Had he continued, he would have arrived in the city in a matter of a couple minutes and the danger to life and safety would have been much greater.”
In terms of the number of shots fired by officers, Jaeger stated he did not feel the number was excessive, due to the circumstances officers faced. He stated four officers were on scene and had fired approximately 6 shots each.
“When officers are in a deadly force situation, they are trained to continue until the threat is stopped,” he added.
Jaeger thanked the numerous agencies involved in the incident as well as the ensuing investigation.
Jaeger also voiced his appreciation for the vast amount of community support in the wake of the incident.
“We have received an overwhelming amount of support from our community from day one. We would like to thank our community for the overwhelming support for our deputies and our agency.”