Duluth officer acquitted in shooting of man through door

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — A jury acquitted a Duluth police officer on Friday of two felony charges for shooting a man through a closed door in 2020.

Tyler Leibfried, 30, was found not guilty of one count of second-degree assault and one count of the intentional discharge of a firearm endangering others. The jury had the case for less than four hours before returning with a verdict, the Star Tribune reported.

Leibfried is believed to be the first Duluth police officer to be charged for a shooting in the line of duty.

According to evidence at trial, Leibfried was responding to a report of a domestic argument when he shot Jared Fyle through the door of Fyle’s apartment.

Fyle had pounded his door shut with a hatchet and turned the deadbolt, but Leibfried believed the two bangs he heard were gunshots and he fired through the door four times. After a pause in which Fyle screamed at him to stop, Leibfried fired two more shots, according to testimony at trial. Fyle was wounded and still has a bullet in his back, said St. Louis County prosecutor Aaron Welch.

Defense attorney Paul Engh said the verdict was fair. “Being a police officer is extraordinarily difficult and dangerous,” he said. “That officer is required to make split-second decisions in life-or-death situations.”

Welch had argued that Leibfried’s actions — especially the final two shots — weren’t reasonable.

“He has fired four shots,” Welch said. “Now he hears a man begging him to stop. He didn’t ask him if he was OK. … He just kept shooting.”

Engh asked jurors to put themselves in Leibfried’s position.

“My request to you is, let the angel of truth come to us today,” he said during closing arguments.