Law enforcement officers were “immediately” fired upon by a Lakeville man in his home before they returned gunfire and killed the suspect they intended to arrest, state investigators said Tuesday.
Dakota County sheriff’s deputies and Lakeville police officers were at the home in the 20800 block of Italy Avenue on Friday to carry out a warrant for the arrest of Kent R. Kruger, 36, because he missed a court date in connection with a charge in 2018 that he assaulted a police officer.
“Upon entering the residence, officers encountered Mr. Kruger, who immediately began firing on them,” the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) said in a statement based on information gathered by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).
Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Durdall shot back and fatally wounded Kruger, the statement continued. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said that Kruger was shot multiple times.
Crime scene personnel from the BCA recovered a rifle and bipod from near Kruger’s body, the DPS said Tuesday.
“Sergeant Durdall and the other responding deputies and officers were fired upon by a man with a rifle,” Sheriff Tim Leslie said in a statement released Tuesday. “His family, his life and that of the other deputies and officers involved are forever changed.”
Durdall, who oversees his agency’s use of force and firearms training, is on standard administrative leave as the investigation continues along with four other deputies who were at the scene.
In his 22 years with the Sheriff’s Office, Durdall has had no complaints lodged against him and has received multiple commendations, said Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Joe Leko.
Lakeville officers wear body cameras, and the BCA is checking to see whether they captured any of the encounter.
Dakota County sheriff’s deputies do not wear body cameras, but they are expected to be putting them in use this spring, Leko said.
No members of law enforcement were hurt during the incident, and Kruger was the only civilian in the home at the time, the DPS said.
When the investigation is complete, the BCA will present its findings without recommendation to the Anoka County Attorney’s Office to determine whether shooting Kruger was justified.
This was the first fatal officer-involved shooting of 2020 in Minnesota. According to a Star Tribune database, there were 14 fatal police encounters last year.
The warrant for Kruger’s arrest was filed last Wednesday because he missed a Feb. 12 court date in connection with a fourth-degree assault charge for allegedly attacking two Lakeville police officers in August 2018.
Officer Doyle Cockrell saw Kruger about 2 a.m. walking near Jupiter Avenue and 205th Street “waving his arms angrily and making obscene hand gestures,” the criminal complaint read.
Cockrell’s commands to Kruger to stop and identify himself were met with defiance. Officer Sarah Parr arrived to assist Cockrell, and Kruger “began to hit, kick and punch” both of them, the complaint continued.
Kruger was subdued after a long struggle and taken in an ambulance to a nearby hospital.
Along with the warrant, the officers were at Kruger’s home last week to serve him with an order for protection that included a demand that he vacate the home, where his mother also lived.
Kruger’s criminal history in Minnesota spans nearly his entire adult life and also includes convictions for underage drinking and driving, possessing marijuana while driving, disorderly conduct, and having his license revoked as well as other traffic violations.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482