In the wake of an investigation spanning nearly two months, Lincoln County District Attorney Galen Bayne-Allison announced Tuesday morning; the actions of Lincoln County Deputy Sam Steckbauer were in accordance with his training and not criminal; during a deadly force incident Steckbauer was involved in on the evening of Feb. 27, 2017.
Contained within the six-page official decision obtained by the Merrill Foto News, Bayne-Allison recounts the events of the evening of Feb. 27 as reported by Steckbauer and confirmed by investigators, as well as evidence collected from the scene. All of which indicated Steckbauer “responded as he was trained.”
“Therefore, I conclude that the conduct of Deputy Steckbauer was privileged and lawful,” Bayne-Allison stated.
“Under the legal privilege of defense of self or others, Deputy Steckbauer had an actual and reasonable belief that the force used was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or another person. Deputy Steckbauer had no reasonable opportunity to use any lesser means of force. Deputy Steckbauer, like other law enforcement officers, was trained to shoot to terminate a threat to himself or others, and to continue to shoot until that threat terminates.”
As Bayne-Allison further elaborates, on Feb. 27, around 6:30 p.m., a citizen witness was driving home from work on County Highway (CTH) FF in the Town of Corning in Lincoln County.
The witness observed another vehicle ahead that zig-zagged across both lanes of travel before disappearing out of sight. The witness continued driving and then noticed the other vehicle in the north side ditch of CTH FF just west of Hilly Road. The witness slowed down to check the welfare of the vehicle’s occupant, who the witness believed to be a man in his 30s, but the man told the witness he was fine.
The witness left the scene and at around 6:36 p.m. called the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Dispatch Center (Dispatch) to report the incident.
Around 6:39 p.m. dispatch contacted Deputy Steckbauer and advised him of the report. At around 6:54 p.m. Steckbauer passed the location of the vehicle twice, made a W-turn, and approached the location of the vehicle, engaging his emergency lights and consequently beginning an audio recording to accompany an already ongoing video recording.
Upon greeting the operator of the vehicle, identified as 40-year old Shawn M. Igers, Steckbauer reportedly observed a handgun – later identified as a semi-automatic Colt .45 caliber – in Igers left hand. Steckbauer immediately ordered Igers to drop the weapon. Igers reportedly responded “F*** You,” raised the weapon and discharged two gunshots at Steckbauer. Steckbauer reported “shots fired” to the Lincoln County 911 Communications Center several times as he then returned fire.
Despite being struck and dropping to the ground, Igers reportedly continued to fire the weapon at Steckbauer, at which point Steckbauer responded with deadly force; while continuing to order Igers to drop the firearm and communicate with Lincoln County 911 dispatch.
Another deputy soon arrived to assist, took cover and joined Steckbauer in commanding Igers to drop his weapon
Bayne-Allison’s report indicated the passenger side of the windshield of Steckbauer’s patrol vehicle had damage consistent with the impact of a projectile, directly in front of the passenger’s seat and approximately half-way between the top and bottom of the windshield. Closer examination revealed an object had impacted the center front of the driver’s side headrest, which was in-line with the impact and exit locations on the headrest.
A projectile was located on the front driver’s side floorboard underneath the front edge of the driver’s seat.
A Colt MK Iv/Series ’70 Goverment Model.45 Automatic Caliber firearm was located near Igers; the slide was locked to the rear and an empty magazine was in the magazine well. Five spent casings and one spent casing were located in the vicinity of Igers. A loaded magazine, consistent with the magazine of the firearm found in the snow, was located in the center console of Igers’ truck.
An autopsy of Shawn Igers was performed by Forensic Pathologist Dr. Michael Stier and reported Igers had sustained three gunshot wounds. Stier concluded Igers’ died from firearm injury sustained during an engagement with law enforcement.
Two beer bottles were located in the snow near Igers’ truck, an open beer bottle was located in a cup holder on the floorboard of the truck, and a six-pack and three unopened beer bottles were located elsewhere inside the truck.
A toxicology report revealed a substantial level of alcohol in Igers’ system.
Bayne-Allison indicated, Igers had been previously convicted of First Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Carrying a Concealed Weapon, and Resisting or Obstructing an Officer on December 15, 2005, in Marathon County Circuit, for an incident that occurred on August 18, 2005, which involved, in part, Igers’ decision to leave a confrontation with another individual outside of a bar, go to his vehicle, arm himself with a loaded firearm, re-initiate the confrontation and ultimately, after pointing the loaded firearm at another person who was then offering no threat; discharge the firearm into the air.
District Attorney Galen Bayne-Allison’s Conclusion
“Law enforcement officers like Deputy Sam Steckbauer are lawfully allowed to use force, including deadly force, when they have an objectively reasonable belief that such force is reasonably necessary to protect themselves or others from the risk of serious bodily injury or death. Officers are provided continuing training regarding the use of force. The issue in this case is whether Deputy Steckbauer acted appropriately and consistently with the legal principles governing the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers.”
“Based on the totality of the facts and circumstances, it is my legal conclusion that Deputy Sam Steckbauer’s performance of his sworn duties on February 27, 2017, was in accordance with those duties and his training to perform them, and was not criminal.”