Fatal shooting of corrections officer in June deemed justified by St. Croix, Polk county attorneys

Both the St. Croix County and Polk County district attorneys have ruled that the law enforcement shooting that killed Tyler Abel last month was justified.

As previously reported, Abel was a corrections officer working at Stillwater Prison.

St. Croix County District Attorney Karl Anderson received the investigative file from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, which was tasked with investigating the shooting. Anderson then requested that Polk County Attorney Jeff Kemp review the case as well.

Law enforcement in St. Croix County responded to a domestic situation around 10:46 p.m. on June 3. Abel’s wife said that her husband was out of control and threatening to bring out his “AR.”

When asked if Abel had been drinking, his wife responded that she “didn’t know what he was on.” She told dispatchers that Abel hadn’t hurt anyone yet, but the argument they had was verbal and physical. According to court documents, he could be heard in the background expressing disbelief that his wife had called 911, yelling, “I’m going to bring my AR out and I’m going to get shot.”

During the 911 call, Abel retrieved an AR-15, but his wife said she was able to get away. However, the children were still inside the home.

When officers arrived on scene, Abel threatened to kill them, court documents state. He also threatened to shoot the K-9 that officers planned to send in, causing them to cancel sending it in.

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A short while later, court documents state that Abel yelled, “Let’s get this over with,” and came out of the house carrying a hunting rifle. He pointed the rifle at the officers and St. Croix County Sheriff’s Sgt. Chase Durand and New Richmond Officer Katie Chevrier both fired their weapons, killing him. They shot a combined four times.

Following the shooting, officers determined that the hunting rifle Abel pointed at officers was a .22 caliber pellet rifle with a wooden stock, metal barrel and a rifle scope.

Anderson stated that responding officers worked “diligently and professionally” during the “extremely tense situation.” Anderson also noted that the officers made multiple attempts to deescalate the situation.

In response to the gun turning out to be a pellet rifle, Anderson stated that this fact did not alter his analysis. He added that the pellet rifle is still potentially lethal, and officers were reasonable in believing that Able was about to use lethal force against them.

“Officers were therefore justified in using lethal force for self-defense and defense of other officers,” he concluded.

Polk County Attorney Kemp came to the same conclusion. He noted that Abel’s words and actions posed “what appeared to be an imminent threat” to responding officers.

“It is my opinion that the officers [were] justified in using deadly force in this situation,” Kemp concluded.

Both district attorneys reviewed body camera footage, officer reports and other documents.