Five police officers who shot and killed a man during a four-hour standoff last summer in Eagan were legally justified in their use of deadly force, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom concluded Wednesday.
Backstrom rendered his decision after reviewing the facts of the case in which officers from the Eagan and Bloomington police departments shot Isak Abdirahman Aden on July 2.
According to Backstrom's report:
On the night of the shooting, officers responded to a 911 call just after 6 p.m. from a woman who said her ex-boyfriend, identified as Aden, had pulled out a gun and threatened her as the two sat in a vehicle outside a residence in Eagan. The woman drove off and into oncoming traffic near the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan to create a scene, at which time Aden jumped out of the vehicle and ran, court documents say.
Over the next 45 minutes, Eagan officers with help from the State Patrol spotted Aden several times as he ran through the woods, behind businesses and through a nearby neighborhood. Officers caught up to Aden in the 1900 block of Seneca Road, where police say he sat down in a parking lot and put a gun to his head.
Eagan officer Jeff Thul directed Aden to drop the gun, but Aden did not, saying "[expletive] shoot me."
As Thul tried to persuade Aden to surrender, SWAT teams from Eagan and Bloomington and armored vehicles were sent to the scene. Aden appeared to have surrendered about 7:07 p.m. when he set the gun down. But three minutes later he picked up the gun again. That set off a series of tense negotiations over the next three hours that were focused on encouraging Aden to drop the gun, court documents showed.
Aden subsequently set the gun down nearby. That is when police devised a tactical plan to apprehend Aden, according to the report: If he did not surrender and stood up with the gun, officers were to subdue him by shooting him with less-lethal munitions and deploying K-9 units. If Aden stood up without the gun and attempted to run from the scene, police would deploy K-9 units to arrest him.
If Aden set the gun down but didn't run, police planned to use grenades to distract Aden as he talked to negotiators on the phone, in hopes of moving in to take him into custody.
The plan, approved by Eagan Police Chief Roger New, commenced about 10:35 p.m. Three grenades were ignited and officers fired two less-lethal munitions, two of which struck Aden. At that point, Aden lunged for the gun and began to raise his right hand while holding the gun. Five officers, fearing for the lives of numerous law enforcement officers on the scene, fired their weapons.
A report from the medical examiner found Aden was shot 11 times.
Officers who fired were identified by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as Bloomington officers Anthony Kiehl, Daniel Nelson, Matt Ryan and Adam Stier, and Eagan police officer Jacob Peterson.
Under Minnesota law, a peace officer is justified in using deadly force to protect an officer or another person from apparent death or bodily harm. In making his ruling, Backstrom said the facts support the decision.
"Each of these officers described observing Aden picking up his gun after the less lethal ammunition were deployed," Backstrom wrote in his decision. "It is our conclusion that it was objectively reasonable for these five police officers to subjectively believe that Aden posed a deadly threat to other officers at the scene of this incident at the time they fired their service weapons, and, therefore, they were legally justified in using deadly force."
The county attorney's office said a number of body camera and squad car videos of the scene were taken in as evidence in the case and reviewed.
Though he sided with the officers in this case, Backstrom said "any loss of life is a tragic occurrence. I wish to express my sympathy to the family and friends of Isak Aden."
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768