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After key piece of evidence is missed, prosecutors re-open case of fatal police shooting

The BCA overlooked a piece of audio evidence, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office.
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Prosecutors have re-opened a case concerning a man's fatal shooting by police in Vadnais Heights last year after an important piece of evidence was overlooked.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) admitted on Thursday that it failed to submit audio evidence it had obtained of the police shooting that left Darren Jahnke dead on Apr. 16, 2017.

It turns out, Jahnke started recording audio of his encounter with Ramsey County deputies, a recording which captured the moment he was shot by a deputy.

The BCA, which investigated the shooting, did not listen to the audio recordings, did not reference it in its report to the Ramsey County Attorney, nor did it forward the audio recording to prosecutors.

As a result, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office announced on Thursday: "This evidence was not submitted by the BCA as a part of their original investigation, and therefore was never considered by prosecutors in our office.

"While it is disappointing that this evidence was not presented to us, we appreciate that the BCA is taking steps to ensure that this does not occur again."

"Our prosecution review of this matter should be considered re-opened," it added.

What happened?

The incident started when police pulled over an RV near Hwy. 61 and I-694 after a report of a sexual assault involving a similar vehicle nearby.

They found Jahnke, 47, inside, who refused to identify himself and threatened to throw a bucket of excrement at the officers. After a stun gun was used on him, a struggle ensued.

During this struggle, a deputy told her fellow deputy that she'd lost her weapon and instructed him to shoot Jahnke. The other deputy opened fire, striking Jahnke in the head.

Jahnke's family was critical of the investigation into the 47-year-old's death, with MPR reporting that they demanded the officers be held accountable for their actions.

They said the BCA's report was filled with "lies and unsupported statements." Nonetheless the Ramsey County Attorney's Office ruled in March that the killing was justified.

In its statement on Thursday, the BCA said the agent who failed to review the cellphone audio is no longer assigned to the BCA's homicide and officer-involved shootings unit.

"This does not meet our standards for evidence examination and the BCA is reviewing what occurred to determine how to prevent this from happening again," it said.

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