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Minnesota deputy says man aimed gun at him before shooting

STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota sheriff’s deputy who faces trial in the April 2018 fatal shooting of a suicidal man says he had no choice but to shoot because he saw the man aim a gun at him and another deputy.

Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Krook is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Brian Evans, 23. Evans was shot near his home in Lake Elmo after Krook and other deputies responded to a report of a suicidal man with a gun.

Krook told a grand jury in July that Evans pointed a gun at him, according to defense documents that ask for the case to be dismissed. Prosecutors dispute that account, saying Evans did not aim at officers and repeatedly said he did not want to harm them. A hearing on the issue was held Monday in Stillwater, the Star Tribune reported.

According to defense attorneys, Krook told the grand jury that Evans’ movements with the gun were getting “close to where it’s pointing at us, and I am getting uncomfortable.” He said that he was worried if Evans turned his head, the bullet would come at Krook or other deputies. “So I, and at one point, make a comment like I’m not comfortable with him turning his head,” Krook said.

Krook said that Evans turned his head even further, toward Deputy Michael Ramos, “so I fired, um I just fired,” according to defense documents.

Krook gave a similar statement to state investigators, saying he believed Evans’ gun was “pointed at Ramos … so that’s what I was concerned about,” according to the defense.

Prosecutors said another deputy didn’t consider shooting Evans during the roughly 40 minutes they were trying to negotiate his surrender as he held a gun to his head. Prosecutors also pointed out that in the final minutes before shots were fired, Evans turned his head 13 times in one direction or another.

Krook’s colleagues told the grand jury they feared Evans would shoot them or himself unless he could call his girlfriend, defense attorneys said.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Michelle Folendorf said Evans ignored orders to drop his gun and “was getting a little more amped up and agitated, and that’s when he just yelled out you’ve got two minutes. … To me that meant you have two minutes to give me the phone or I’m going to shoot one of these citizens out here … he’s going to shoot one of us, or he’s going to shoot himself.”

Ramos told the grand jury that Evans “didn’t aim at us, but kind of flagged us. Like when moving the gun, just kind of points in our direction. I don’t know if it was intentional or not.”

Evans had studied to be a firefighter and was working as an emergency medical technician, family attorneys said. The standoff began shortly after his girlfriend rejected his plea to marry him, the defense said.

The defense documents also quote from a letter Evans wrote to the first responders who would have arrived to his suicide. “I’m so sorry that this is another memory in your career, of another lost soul, but your job is not to save them all, just the ones you can. Carry on, you have the watch from her my friends.” He signed it “Benjamin Evans, Firefighter — EMT.”

Krook’s trial begins March 9.