Maple Grove officer cleared in non-fatal shooting of man with a knife

Friday,

A Maple Grove police officer who shot and wounded a knife-wielding man was justified in his actions and will not face any criminal charges, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Friday.

Officer Jeffrey Albers appropriately used deadly force because he and his partner faced death or great bodily harm from the then 50-year-old DeWayne Burlingham on the night of Feb. 7.

According to the evidence and statements obtained by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in its investigation, Maple Grove police were sent to Burlingham’s home on Trenton Lane on a call for assistance. When they arrived, Officer Albers and Officer David Anton discussed the fact they had been to the residence in the past for a mental health crisis.

Burlingham let the officers in the house and Officer Anton went to the upper level of the split-level house with Burlingham, while Officer Albers went to the lower level to see if anyone else was home. Eventually, Officer Anton called to his partner because Burlingham had become agitated, walked to the kitchen and grabbed a kitchen knife.

When Officer Albers arrived, he could see Burlingham poking his eye with the knife tip, so the officer drew his gun and ordered the man to drop the knife. Officer Anton then fired his Taser and Burlingham fell to the floor but he hung onto the knife. Officer Anton activated his Taser again but Burlingham remained out of control. Officer Anton then took Officer Albers’ Taser and again fired at the man. Still, that did not control Burlingham who began to cut his stomach with the knife.

Both officers reported that Burlingham was asking them to kill him and he moved toward Officer Albers with the knife. Audio from the Taser and the squad camera recorded the officers telling Burlingham numerous times to stop and drop the knife. Officer Albers told investigators at that point he was afraid the man would stab him, so he fired two rounds.

Despite being hit, Burlingham stayed on his feet and began stabbing himself in the throat. However, he no longer was moving forward, so the officers held their position and waited for help. When Officer Adam Marinello arrived, he tried to talk Burlingham into cooperating.

Eventually, Officer Darren Struckmann could see that Officer Marinello was not having any success in getting that cooperation, so he fired his Taser. That worked and the officers were able to disarm and handcuff Burlingham. They also administered first aid to him until paramedics arrived.

The investigation determined that the two bullets struck Burlingham in his abdomen, right forearm and right leg. He eventually was released from the hospital.

Minnesota law and the United States Supreme Court recognize that a police officer may use deadly force when necessary “to protect the peace officer or another from apparent death or great bodily harm,” according to the Minnesota law.
 
“The evidence…as applied to the applicable law does not support the filing of criminal charges against Officer Albers or any of the other officers involved in this case,” Freeman wrote.

In addition, investigators interviewed Burlingham’s ex-wife who said he would use methamphetamine and then arm himself with a knife to protect himself from the drug-induced fear of others.
 
“All reasonable attempts at (de-escalation) were unsuccessful and officers found themselves in a confined space with a person advancing on them with a knife,” Freeman concluded, along with two other prosecutors.

Report on shooting of Dewayne Burlingham - February 2018 (PDF)

BCA link to redacted case file