Family of man who died in the hospital after being tased during eviction feels it could’ve been handled differently
The family of the Willmar veteran who died at the hospital after getting tased by law enforcement hopes he’s remembered for the ‘good man’ he was.
“He served his country, he was a very responsible, good man, who was a good son,” Shani Gutknecht, niece of Michael Yanacheak, said.
Monday, Yanacheak was involved in a use-of-force incident, involving Kandiyohi County deputies and Willmar police officers, while an attempted eviction was underway at his Willmar apartment.
“I think it could have been handled differently,” Gutknecht said.
According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Yanacheak didn’t answer the door while law enforcement was conducting a court-ordered eviction — according to court records, he was two months behind on rent.
After not answering for an hour, investigators say the apartment manager pried open the door where police and deputies found Yanacheak in a bedroom. At that point, the BCA says Kandiyohi Count deputy Riley Kampsen — who according to the state agency has five years of law enforcement experience — fired his taser when Yanacheak walked at them with a knife.
Yanacheak later died at the hospital, but his cause of death has yet to be determined.
Before his death, Gutknecht says they were trying to get him help, but feels the agencies in place to help him fell short.
“I didn’t know what else to do. If I can’t get them out of here to get him to go see a doctor. There was nobody that could,” Gutknecht said.
“It’s almost like I can’t believe that this even happened…because it shouldn’t have,” Gutknecht added while tearing up.
She said Monday, the plan was for him to go to a mental health unit at a Willmar hospital after he was evicted. Gutknecht said her uncle had been struggling with his mental health for a while.
In 2021, court documents say Yanacheak walked into a nearby house with a knife. Police added that “it appeared like he was having some type of schizophrenic or delusional episode.”
Now, as Gutknecht waits to learn more from state investigators, she hopes people remember him as the good man they knew him as. She says he’ll be laid to rest sometime in the spring — Yanacheak will be buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.