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Prosecutor says deputy shot Evansville man in self-defense

Jay Holmgren

A Stevens County sheriff's deputy acted in self-defense when he shot and killed an Evansville man last year, a prosecutor has decided.

Jay Johannes Holmgren was shot and killed Oct. 28 in Traverse County after he led officers on a 50-mile chase from Donnelly in Stevens County to Minnesota Highway 27 near Wheaton in Traverse County.

Traverse County Attorney Matthew P. Franzese said in a Feb. 14 letter released Thursday by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension that Deputy Ron Hensinger acted in self-defense in shooting Holmgren.

Franzese said he will not present the case to a grand jury "because the facts do not warrant it."

Franzese said in a letter to Traverse County Sheriff Trevor Wright that after reviewing the BCA's independent investigation, he concluded Holmgren, 37, "intended to cause his own death by threatening the lives of the law enforcement officers who were tasked with pursuing him and trying to take him into custody."

Holmgren had stopped along the highway and had pointed a handgun at officers on Oct. 28, the BCA has said. "By pointing his weapon at these officers, Holmgren had to know that he would be fired upon," Franzese said in his letter. "And it was not until Holmgren did point his weapon directly at these officers, obviously threatening the officers with the imminent prospect of death or great bodily harm, that one of them fired his weapon at him."

Franzese's letter said Hensinger fired one shot from his rifle at Holmgren, striking him and killing him.

Franzese said the law officers showed "tremendous restraint in trying to safely place Holmgren under arrest..."

The shooting happened about 90 minutes after Holmgren was approached by a Stevens County deputy about 7:05 a.m. Oct. 28 in Donnelly, the BCA said. The deputy found Holmgren alone, apparently slumped over in a pickup on Main Street, the BCA said.

Holmgren then led officers on a 50-mile chase through Stevens, Grant and Traverse counties that included Holmgren shooting through his rear window at law enforcement near Wheaton and ramming a Morris Police Department vehicle in Donnelly, the BCA said. Law enforcement stopped Holmgren by using a pursuit intervention technique, or PIT maneuver, on Minnesota Highway 27 near Traverse County Road 6.

The law officers attempted to negotiate with Holmgren for several minutes before he ignored their commands, the BCA said after the chase.

Holmgren left his vehicle and fled on foot, and law officers pursued him into a field, the BCA said in a news release. Five officers in a Traverse County Sheriff's Office vehicle pursued Holmgren and cut him off about 175 yards off the roadway before he could reach a wooded area, the BCA said. Holmgren was 25 yards away from law officers when he pointed his handgun at them and then was shot, the BCA said in a news release.

Holmgren had a criminal record dating back to to 2002, with offenses taking place in Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd and Douglas counties. Among the offenses are numerous charges for drug possession and driving while intoxicated. Holmgren had been convicted of two felonies, both for fifth degree possession of drugs. His most recent conviction was in October 2013, when he was convicted of a misdemeanor after obstructing the legal process/interfering with a peace officer.

No officers were injured.

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