MOUNDS VIEW, Minn. (WCCO) -- A Ramsey County sergeant who struck and killed a man with his squad car last fall after the man shot at the sergeant and another officer will not face criminal charges, the attorney tasked with the charging decision said.
After reviewing the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's investigative file, Dakota County Attorney Kathryn Keena determined Sgt. Don Rindal was "legally justified in using deadly force."
According to the case summary, which was based on interviews with law enforcement officers and witnesses and body camera footage from the BCA file, Rindal fatally struck Troy Engstrom with his SUV on Sept. 22, 2021, after Engstrom fired one shot at a Mounds View police officer and another shot at Rindal.
Engstrom was a suspect in a shots fired incident at the AmericInn Hotel on Mounds View Boulevard earlier that day. The Mounds View Police Department was searching for him after he left the hotel, and requested assistance from the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, according to an officer's statement.
Mounds View Police Officer Nick Erickson found Engstrom walking on County Road H2 near Jackson Drive. According to the case summary, Engstrom fired a shot at Erickson's squad car after Erickson reached for his holster while using the car's door as cover. Erickson was not hurt.
Rindal arrived at the scene just before Engstrom fired the first shot, the attorney's office said. When Engstrom turned and fired a shot at Rindal's vehicle, Rindal "immediately turned perpendicular to County Road H2 and drove at the suspect, who was still pointing his handgun at him."
Engstrom was launched into a nearby fence, and ended up underneath Rindal's vehicle, according to the attorney's office. Rindal backed up so officers could reach Engstrom to subdue him and provide aid. Engstrom was taken to Hennepin Healthcare, where he later died.
"Had I not taken immediate action, I believe the suspect would have continued to approach the Mounds View police officer, and would have shot at him at close range and likely killed him," Rindal said in a written statement. "Had I not driven at him and hit him, I believe he would have also continued to fire his handgun at me."
A used car lot employee who witnessed what happened from across the street told BCA investigators that Rindal "saved ... a lot of what could have gone wrong."
"It is my conclusion that given the facts and circumstances of this incident, it was objectively reasonable for Sergeant Rindal to believe Mr. Engstrom posed a deadly threat to him, to Officer Erickson and to members of the public [at] the time he struck Mr. Engstrom with his squad," Dakota County Attorney Kathryn Keena said. "Accordingly, Sergeant Rindal was legally justified in using deadly force in this instance and there is no basis to issue criminal charges against him."
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