Publish date:

No charges for St. Louis Park officer who fatally shot man in apartment

The standoff happened in January 2019.

Prosecutors have determined that a St. Louis Park police officer was "within the law" when he shot a man to death during a standoff last year. 

On January 19, officers were called to a local apartment complex to respond to a domestic violence situation, where the suspect — 35-year-old Matthew Neil Tuhkanen — would ultimately be shot dead.

On Friday, the Hennepin County attorney's office announced that it will not file charges against Samuel Heffernan, the officer who fired on Tuhkanen.

"Officer Heffernan had an objectively reasonable belief that Mr. Tuhkanen posed an apparent threat of great bodily harm or death to multiple people," a press release says.

It was Tuhkanen's girlfriend — with whom he had a child — who called 911 on him that night. Officers soon arrived at the Louisiana Court Apartments, and subsequently found the suspect "holed up" in a corner of his girlfriend's bedroom.   

What ensued was a confrontation during which "Tuhkanen was agitated and yelling" and refusing to obey commands.

According to the release, it came to a head when the suspect "turned toward the dresser with a hand on his waistband and then made a jerking motion with his left hand," leaning into "an area the officers couldn’t see."

Hefferman fired four shots, striking Tuhkanen in the torso and right arm, killing him.

All the officers present "told investigators they thought Tuhkanen was going to pick up something from the area the officers couldn’t see."

From beginning to end, the entire encounter lasted 12 minutes. 

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman issued the following statement:

“All of these cases are a tragedy for the family of the victim, for the officers on the scene and for the community. But Mr. Tuhkanen had frightened his girlfriend to the point where she could barely speak. The confined space and Mr. Tuhkanen’s refusal to obey police commands and his sudden movement toward a hidden area gave the officers every reason to believe he was reaching for a weapon.”

Tuhkanen had prior warrants in Anoka County for trespassing, assault and disorderly conduct.

Next Up

Dalvin Cook

Vikings: Dalvin Cook is OUT of Seahawks game

The star running back hasn't recovered from an ankle injury.

snapchat

Boy arrested after making threats towards school in Anoka

An image shared on Snapchat warned of the "best school shooting yet."

Ambulance hospital emergency

Four killed in crashes after deadly start to weekend on MN roads

The latest figures show there have been 349 road deaths in Minnesota this year.

Delta

In crackdown on unruly passengers, Delta urges other airlines to share no-fly lists

The airline says it's a bid to "further protect airline employees across the industry."

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

St. Cloud State student-athlete suspended from team following alleged assault

The incident reportedly took place off campus on Sep. 18.

Gopher Football

U of M-barrassed: Gophers shocked by Bowling Green

The Falcons snapped a 21-game non-conference winning streak in front of a homecoming crowd.

Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins applies for exemption to COVID vaccine, is rejected

Wiggins could miss a large chunk of the season without the vaccine.

CJ Ham

Vikings-Seahawks: 5 things you can count on happening

Can the Vikings finally beat Russell Wilson?

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Residents asked to be on the lookout for at-large suspect in Sauk Rapids

The suspect was last seen near the intersection of Garden Brook Drive Northeast and Strawberry Court Northeast.

Related

Screen Shot 2020-08-09 at 5.20.58 PM

Man who 'rushed officer with knife' fatally shot in western Wisconsin

The deadly encountered happened around 9:45 p.m. Saturday.

Man shot dead by police at St. Louis Park apartments

The officer has been placed on leave, as per standard procedure.

Authorities ID man shot dead by police at St. Louis Park apartments

The 35 year old from Anoka was shot dead by officers on Saturday evening.

police lights

Man fatally shot by deputy on I-35 identified as 25-year-old

Anthony Michael Legato was shot during an encounter on Interstate 35 with the Pine County Sheriff's Office.

police lights

No charges against officers who fatally shot suspect after raft standoff

The 24-year-old suspect allegedly fired shots at numerous law enforcement officers.