An unfortunate aspect of being in the law enforcement field is that there is the potential of having to use lethal force and take someone’s life. That is the scenario that a Minnesota deputy finds himself in. The Washington County deputy made his first appearance in court.
While most instances end with the grand jury returns with a ‘no-bill,’ Brian Krook was indicted on a second-degree manslaughter charge. Deputy Brian Krook pleaded not guilty during the 15-minute hearing.
According to TwinCities.com, police said Krook shot and killed 23-year-old Benjamin Evans shortly after midnight on April 12, 2018, while responding to a 911 call for a suicidal man with a gun in Lake Elmo. Evans was holding a handgun when Krook and other Washington County deputies responded.
Evans, who was an EMT, told officers he wanted to kill himself while “officers made repeated attempts to persuade him to put down the gun,” according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which investigated the shooting.
“At one point, Deputy Krook discharged his firearm, striking Evans multiple times.”
There were no other details provided regarding Evans’ actions that preceded being fatally shot.
A Washington County grand jury last week indicted Krook. The Ramsey County Attorney’s office is handling the case to avoid a conflict of interest. The trial is being held Sherburne County District Court.
Because grand juries convene in private, there is no court document that provides a narrative of the shooting or a prosecutor’s rationale for the criminal charge. The indictment alleges only that Krook “created an unreasonable risk, and consciously took the chance of causing death or great bodily harm to another.”
On Thursday, the list of witnesses called to testify before the grand jury was made public, offering clues as to the information the jury was given before charging him. That list includes the names of six local law enforcement officers and Jeff Noble, a use-of-force expert and former Irvine, Calif., deputy police chief who also testified for Ramsey County prosecutors in the case of the 2016 death of motorist Philando Castile. The officer in that case was acquitted.
Another court document released Thursday indicates Krook spoke with investigators about what happened. What he told them has not yet been made public.
The judge, Mary Yunker, set bail at $10,000, but said he would be freed without bond if he surrendered his passport. His attorney, Kevin Short, said that he’s had Krook’s passport since last week. He was not arrested or booked.
The next court date will be sometime in September.
Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Tom Hatch said he gave Short 664 files. He also indicated that he still had other evidence to turn over, to include audio and video files.
Krook did not speak to the media as he left the courtroom. His attorney did speak briefly with reporters and offered condolences to the family and friends of Evans, whom he said died “tragically.”
Short, who has represented numerous police officers, said some of them “had to kill someone in the line of duty, and it is difficult for any person to be put in the position where they have to do that,” Short said. “I am confident that after all the facts are presented at trial, he will be completely exonerated.”
According to Short, Krook has represented the “county and its residents with honor and distinction for almost 10 years.” He also said that his client had received extensive training on the use of deadly force.
Short closed his comments saying that his client had no choice but to use deadly force when Evans’ actions placed Krook’s life, and the lives of his fellow officers, in danger.
“No law enforcement officer ever wants to use deadly force,” Short said. “Deputy Krook was compelled to follow his training and use deadly force, after he and his fellow officers encountered an armed, suicidal and emotionally disturbed man who refused many commands to put his weapon down.”
Sheriff Dan Starry , in a prepared statement, said that he was “deeply saddened” by Evans’ death.
“The loss of life in any call we respond to is never the desired outcome,” he said. “But I am proud that we have men and women that are willing to put their lives on the line every day to protect our citizens.”
While the events of the night are still somewhat unknown, we can only hope that the truth is revealed, and all involved can begin to heal.