Duluth police officer charged in September shooting

The officer, who is a five-year veteran, is charged with two felonies.
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A Duluth police officer has been charged over the shooting a man in the back in September.  

Tyler Leibfried, 28, of Hermantown, a five-year veteran with the Duluth Police Department, is charged with two felonies – intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety of another, and reckless discharge of a firearm in a municipality, the St. Louis County Attorney's Office announced Monday. 

"Tyler Leibfried’s conduct fails the 'objective reasonable officer' standard in that it was not an objectively reasonable use of deadly force," St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said in a statement, noting that his actions were not justifiable under state law. 

According to the criminal complaint, Leibfried on Sept. 12 responded to a possible physical domestic assault at the Kingsley Heights Apartments in Duluth. 

When he arrived, he encountered a woman who said she had gotten into an argument with her boyfriend, Jared Fyle, in apartment 301, and wanted an escort into the apartment to get her belongings, charges state. She emphasized she wasn't assaulted and wasn't hurt. 

Another officer – Cory Lindsholm – arrived and they determined there wasn't probable cause for an arrest, but they would treat it as a civil matter and assist the girlfriend with getting her belongings, the complaint says.

With their body cameras recording, the officers made their way to apartment 301. When Leibfried was about to knock on the door, they heard two loud noises described as a bang or firearm report sound from inside, charges say. Neither officer had announced themselves. 

Leibfried radioed "shots fired" and fired four rounds from his duty pistol into the doorway, charges state, and then a second later he heard a voice yell "stop, stop, stop!" and "Stop, please stop. Ow."

Leibfried didn't respond but then fired two more shots. The voice from inside the apartment then yelled "Stop, stop, please stop," "I've been shot, please stop," and "Open the door," charges say. 

Leibfried stopped firing and radioed for medical. On the body camera footage, Officer Lindsholm can be heard shouting "Tyler, Tyler, where you at? Get back here." Lindsholm didn't fire any shots. 

Additional back-up officers responded to the scene, who instructed Fyle to come out of the apartment. They learned Fyle suffered a bullet wound to the back and was bleeding, the complaint says. He was brought to the hospital, where he was treated and released. 

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Inside the apartment, there was no evidence that anyone but Leibfried fired a weapon, the complaint says. 

In an interview with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) on Sept. 13, Fyle said about 20 minutes after his girlfriend left, he went to lock the door, kicking it to make sure it was closed, charges state. When he turned to walk away, he heard someone yell "shots fired" and then gunshots came through the door, hitting him. 

On Sept. 15, Leibfried spoke with BCA investigators, saying his intent was to go to the apartment, speak to Fyle and retrieve some of the girlfriend's belongings.

The complaint states:

"The defendant (Leibfried) explained that once they got to the hallway leading to apartment 301, he realized it was very narrow. He related the hallway to a "fatal funnel" from his military training and he said that it made him somewhat nervous. He noticed what he described as a 'nook' to the right side of the door to apartment 301 which provided some protection for him. Explaining that it was standard procedure in dealing with a domestic call to stand to the side of the door, he confirmed his duty pistol was not drawn. Officer Lindsholm stayed further back down the hallway.

"As he was getting ready to knock on the door, he said he heard two loud noises that sounded like gun shots and that he 'felt' two shots come through the door. He quickly backed further into the nook/alcove to gain additional protection. He said he did not know if his partner had been hit and was concerned that if he retreated back down the hall he would place himself into a line of fire. He said after yelling 'shots fired' he heard what sounded like the manipulation of a firearm and the presence of someone behind the door.

"It was then that he began firing his pistol towards the door, firing five or six shots in his estimation. He said he shot because he was sure he had taken gunfire from inside the apartment. When asked, the Defendant said he did not identify himself as a police officer to anyone in apartment 301 as he never had the opportunity before the sounds he perceived to be gunfire. He admitted that when he heard someone shouting from behind the door that they had been shot, he retreated back down the hallway to Officer Lindsholm's position."

Lindsholm told BCA investigators he didn't fire his gun because "I didn't know for sure where the shots came from, so I wasn't going to start putting rounds into this apartment just on a guess," charges state.

Leibfried's first court appearance has not yet been scheduled. 

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