Advertisement

4 law enforcement agents placed on administrative leave for role in officer-involved shooting

Updated: Apr. 22, 2020 at 5:32 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KEYC) — Four law enforcement personnel who discharged their firearms during a stand-off on Saturday, April 18, in Mankato have been placed on standard administrative leave.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension identified the agents as:

AgencyNameLaw Enforcement Experience
Blue Earth County Sheriff’s OfficeLt. Jeremy Brennan19 years
Blue Earth County Sheriff’s OfficeDeputy James Othoudt13 years
Nicollet County Sheriff’s OfficeDeputy Paul Biederman15 years
North Mankato Police DepartmentOfficer Chris Hendrickson20 years

Earlier this week, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the man who died during the incident as Austin Dean Heights, 24, who did not have a permanent address. Heights died of multiple gunshot wounds.

The Minnesota BCA is investigating the officer-involved shooting further at the request of the agencies involved.

The BCA said via a news release Wednesday that two firearms were recovered at the scene. The agency added that no officers were wearing body cameras and there is no squad camera footage of the incident.

The agency’s investigation of the incident is still ongoing. Once the investigation is complete, the BCA will provide its findings without recommendation to the Le Sueur County Attorney’s Office for review.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating the officer involved shooting at the request of the agencies involved.

Shortly after noon Saturday, law enforcement responded to a 911 call about an armed robbery at the BP gas station on U.S. Highway 169 just north of Highway 14 interchange in Blue Earth County. No one was injured during the robbery. After the robbery the suspect, now identified as Heights, fled east on foot across Highway 169 toward the Kiwanis Recreation Area. He boarded a rubber raft and began floating north toward St. Peter.

Officers exchanged gunfire with Heights at several points during the pursuit. Heights was struck by gunfire shortly before 2:30 p.m. as he attempted to exit the rubber raft on the east side of the river approximately three miles north of the Highway 14 bridge. He fell into the water. Officers located his body in the river a short time later and he was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Two firearms were recovered at the scene. No officers were wearing body cameras and there is no squad camera footage of the incident.

The BCA investigation of the incident is ongoing. Once the investigation is complete, the BCA will provide its findings without recommendation to the Le Sueur County Attorney’s Office for review

MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Authorities identified the robbery suspect who died during an officer-involved shooting.

The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office reports the man was identified as 24-year-old Austin Dean Heights, who does not have a permanent address.

Authorities originally reported that an armed robbery had occurred at the BP gas station at approximately 12:08 p.m. Saturday. Nobody was injured during the robbery.

The male suspect, Austin Dean Heights, had traveled by foot across U.S. Highway 169 before heading toward the Minnesota River.

The Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office issued an alert at approximately 2 p.m. that advised residents in the area of 3rd Avenue, just north of U.S. Highway 14, and west to the Minnesota River to shelter in place. The order ended at approximately 2:40 p.m.

Around this time, several eyewitnesses told KEYC staff members that law enforcement agents had been using binoculars and others who had their weapons drawn during the manhunt near the Kiwanis Dog Park.

After a search of the area, law enforcement agents had found a suspect traveling north on the Minnesota River in a rubber raft who matched the description of the armed robber.

At approximately 2:45 p.m., law enforcement officials confirmed to KEYC News Now staff they were involved in an armed standoff with a man along the river.

Heights proceeded to engage with law enforcement by firing his weapon at them. Licensed law enforcement agents returned fire, ultimately killing Heights, who was attempting to exit the rubber raft on the east side of the river, according to the Minnesota BCA. His body was later recovered from the river approximately three miles north of the Highway 14 bridge.

The medical examiner’s office reports that the official cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

Authorities say this is still an active and ongoing investigation and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will continue to interview the people who took part in or witnessed the incident.

Assisting agencies include the Mankato Department of Public Safety, Blue Earth, Le Sueur and Nicollet County Sheriff’s Offices, North Mankato and St. Peter Police Departments, Minnesota State Patrol, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota River Valley Tactical Response Team.

Copyright 2020 KEYC. All rights reserved.