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Deputy pleads not guilty to manslaughter in fatal shooting of Lake Elmo man

Deputy Brian Kook made his first court appearance Wednesday.

A Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputy has pleaded not guilty after being indicted for second-degree manslaughter last week over the fatal shooting of a suicidal man in Lake Elmo.

Deputy Brian Krook, 31, is only the third law enforcement officer in Minnesota to be charged for a shooting carried out on duty. The other two are officers Jeronimo Yanez (Philando Castile) and Mohamed Noor (Justine Damond).

Benjamin Evans, 23, of Lake Elmo, was killed in April of 2018. Police were called to the intersection where Evans was said to be suicidal and armed with a gun.

Officers tried to persuade Evans to put down the gun. At one point, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Krook discharged his firearm, striking Evans.

Evans was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

To avoid a conflict of interest, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office took over the case for the Washington County Attorney’s Office. Investigation with the BCA started in April 2018, although the country officially received the case in January.

A grand jury convened July 18, returning with an indictment a day later. While grand jury proceedings are kept secret, at least 12 jurors must agree to indict, and juries are made up of 16 to 23 jurors, per Minnesota law.

The details contained within the indictment haven't been released, with information limited as to how the grand jury came to its decision.

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Krook pleaded non guilty at his first court appearance Wednesday and turned over his passport for a conditional release. 

Per the Pioneer Press, Evans' parents released the following statement: 

“We have waited patiently to understand what happened to Ben, praying for truth and justice. In the meantime, we have been keeping Ben’s memory alive for his 3-year-old daughter. He was an extraordinary young man who loved life, his family, his fellow man and his country.”

If you are having suicidal thoughts, or know someone who is, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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