The actions of a Ramsey County sheriff's deputy who fatally rammed a suspect with his SUV were justified, according to the Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena.
Keena said Rindal's use of force in this incident was "legally justified," writing in a memo about her decision that Rindal's written statement said he believed using force was necessary to protect another officer, himself, and people passing by from death or harm.
Authirites said the incident started around 6:20 a.m. on Sept. 22, 2021, when Mounds View police officers were called to the AmericInn Hotel at 2200 Mounds View Blvd. for a report of a suicidal man, later identified as Engstrom. Officers ended up clearing the scene when they learned Engstrom's girlfriend was no longer there as they did not want to escalate the situation, the memo says.
Then, at 10:40 a.m., police responded to the hotel again after it was reported to authorities someone fired a gun in Engstrom's room earlier that morning.
Police made the decision to take Engstrom into custody. However, he'd left the hotel and was reported walking in the area. At that point, Mounds View Police Officer Nick Erickson parked near Engstrom and Engstrom approached, eventually firing two shots at Erickson, the memo says. That's when Rindal drove his squad SUV into Engstrom, pushing him through a wooden privacy fence.
Authorities rendered aid and he was taken to the hospital, where he died of multiple blunt force injuries due to a pedestrian-motor vehicle collision, the autopsy said.
"It is my conclusion that given the facts and circumstances of this incident, it was objectively reasonable for Sgt. Rindal to believe Mr. Engstrom posed a deadly threat to him, to Officer Erickson and to members of the public and the time he struck Mr. Engstrom with his squad," the memo says. "Accordingly, Sgt. Rindal was legally justified in using deadly force in this instance and there is no basis to issue criminal charges against him."
Keena reviewed the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's investigation into the incident, which included officer and witness statements, Engstrom's autopsy, and a review of body-worn camera and squad video.