BCA Acknowledges Piece of Evidence in Vadnais Heights OIS Not Turned Over to Ramsey County Attorney

BCA Acknowledges Piece of Evidence in Vadnais Heights OIS Not Turned Over to Ramsey County Attorney Photo: KSTP/Chris Knoll

September 20, 2018 06:37 PM

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said audio recorded on a cell phone by Darren Jahnke during an encounter with law enforcement that ended in his fatal shooting in April 2017 was not turned over in the case file provided to the Ramsey County Attorney's Office for review.

In March, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said the use of force by Deputy Andre Rongitsch was justified.

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Documents related to the case stated another Ramsey County deputy was tackled by Jahnke while responding to an RV and car parked on Fanum Road in Vadnais Heights.

"Based upon his training and situation at hand, Deputy Andre Rongitsch had no other course of action other than to fire his weapon, which he did as a last resort to stop the immediate threat that was posed to Deputy Daly," Choi said in the document.

RELATED: Ramsey County Attorney: Use of Force in Vadnais Heights Officer-Involved Shooting Justified

But the BCA said Thursday that shortly before the encounter began, Jahnke began to record audio. And while the agent assigned to review the cell phone information as part of the BCA's investigation into the matter reviewed multiple sets of data stored on the phone, they did not listen to audio recordings.

And the BCA's report did not reference or include the recording.

"This does not meet our standards for evidence examination and the BCA is reviewing what occurred to determine how to prevent this from happening again," read part of a statement from the BCA Thursday. "The BCA agent involved is no longer assigned to the unit that investigates officer involved shootings or homicides.

"The BCA is reviewing the recording and has consulted with the Ramsey County Attorney's Office on its contents. The recording has been turned over to the Ramsey County Attorney's Office for their consideration in their review of this case. The BCA is committed to complete and transparent investigations. The audio recording will be added to the closed case file."

The county attorney's office, meanwhile, said in a statement that it would take the new evidence under review.

"Today the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) presented a piece of recorded audio evidence to our office related to the officer-involved shooting death of Darren Jahnke on April 16, 2017," the statement read. 

"This evidence was not submitted by the BCA as a part of their original investigation, and therefore was never considered by prosecutors in our office. While it is disappointing that this evidence was not presented to us, we appreciate that the BCA is taking steps to ensure that this does not occur again. Prosecutors are carefully reviewing the audio and have requested that the BCA prepare a written transcript of that audio.

"It is also possible that, during the course of our review of this recently produced evidence, we may have follow up questions for the BCA. Our prosecution review of this matter should be considered re-opened. Once a decision has been made, we will notify the public and provide further information."

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Frank Rajkowski

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