Mental health concerns, missed court dates preceded deadly Lakeville officer-involved shooting

Authorities in Dakota County had been concerned for months about the mental health of a man who was killed by police last week — and had even been reluctant to serve the arrest warrant that ultimately led to the deadly officer-involved shooting in Lakeville.

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is conducting the investigation into the Feb. 28 shooting, said earlier this week that Kent Kruger opened fire as soon as officers entered his home to take him into custody.

A spokesperson for the Dakota County Attorney's Office said Wednesday that prosecutors had hoped to avoid serving that arrest warrant but were forced to go to Kruger's home after he repeatedly failed to show up for court hearings and mental competency evaluations.

Kruger was facing assault charges for kicking and punching an officer during an arrest last summer.

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A judge had ordered him to undergo an evaluation last year to determine if he was mentally competent to stand trial on those charges but Kruger did not show up for the examination in December, according to court records.

Kruger was eventually evaluated in January but never showed up for a scheduled court hearing on Feb. 12 where the report would have been added to the court record.

While the exact details of the evaluation are unknown, prosecutors later declared that they intended to prosecute Kruger once he was restored to competency — an indication that he had been found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Kruger could have been arrested earlier in February for failing to appear in court, but a spokesperson for the Dakota County Attorney's Office said they chose to reschedule the hearing for later in the month "in hope that the defendant's attorney would be able to speak with him and have him appear without an arrest warrant being issued."

Kruger failed to show up for that hearing as well. He died the next day when a sheriff's deputy returned fire while trying to take him into custody.