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Burnsville officer 'was justified' in fatal shooting of suicidal gunman

The suicidal man had recently quit his job and broken up with his girlfriend.
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A police officer was justified in shooting a Burnsville man who was armed and suicidal after a breakup with his girlfriend, the Dakota County Attorney has ruled.

Jamie Lewis, a 48-year-old who had a history of depression, was shot dead by Burnsville Sgt. Steven Soler on Sept. 26, 2016.

Police were called to the scene by Lewis's ex-girlfriend, who said he had been drinking, and left their apartment at 1605 Cliff Road E. with a gun with the intention of killing himself – something he'd apparently been planning for days.

Officers found Lewis outside an industrial building near the apartment complex, and saw he was lying on the ground holding a handgun.

He refused to drop the gun and instead turned it towards his head, before sitting up and pointing the gun directly at Soler.

This, a report from Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said, caused Soler to "fear for his life, the lives of fellow officers and members of public nearby," prompting him to shoot several times "until Lewis stopped moving."

Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene. He was struck with three bullets out of the seven fired by Soler.

In his determination, Backstrom said Stoler's belief his life was in danger was "objectively reasonable" under the circumstances, with Lewis' ex also telling police he'd recently quit his job, had suffered from depression, and was a convicted felon who had said he would "go down fighting."

"Although I have concluded that the use of deadly force by this police officer was legally justified in this instance, any loss of life is a tragic occurrence," Backstrom said, before adding: "Unfortunately, there are times when officers are placed in a situation where they must use deadly force to protect themselves and the public."

Police in Minnesota killed 14 people in 2016 according to a database compiled by the Washington Post.

It's not common for an officer to face charges over a fatal shooting, in fact the only known charges to have followed a police shooting in the state relates to the killing of Philando Castile last July. St. Anthony Officer Jeronimo Yanez is currently on trial for manslaughter.

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