No charges for deputy who fatally shot man in Vadnais Heights

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office announced March 15 that no charges would be filed against the sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed Darren Robert Jahnke in Vadnais Heights nearly a year ago.

Based on the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s investigation of the killing, the county attorney’s office ruled that Ramsey County Sheriff’s deputy Andre Rongitsch was justified in his use of force.

The shooting, which occurred in the 3200 block of Fanum Road around 9:30 p.m. April 16, 2017, stemmed from a confrontation between 47-year-old Jahnke and deputies inside a recreation vehicle, according to a memo released by the county attorney’s office.

Jahnke was shot by a deputy after he allegedly disarmed another deputy during a struggle.

The BCA presented its completed investigation to the county attorney’s office Jan. 24. The attorney’s office decided against criminal charges and released a 23-page memo with it’s conclusion.

 

‘Please shoot him’

According to the memo, the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a sexual assault in an RV in Little Canada a few days prior to the shooting.

On the evening of April 16, Easter Sunday, deputy Sara Naglosky, who had been with the department for four months at the time, was on routine patrol in Vadnais Heights with her field training officer, Rongitsch, who had 12 years experience. 

They noticed an RV parked in front of a business in the 3200 block of Fanum Road, a non-residential, industrial area in Vadnais Heights, that wasn’t far from Little Canada.  

The sheriff’s office provides police service for both Vadnais Heights and Little Canada, along with Shoreview and Arden Hills, Falcon Heights and other communities.

Naglosky and Rongitsch didn’t find anyone in the trailer, the memo says. They left, but made plans to return later.

A little after 9 p.m., Naglosky and Rongitsch returned, this time finding a man, Jahnke, in the RV and a car parked behind the RV with a woman sitting in the passenger seat. The memo only provides her initials; A.M. Naglosky and Rongitsch were then joined by canine unit deputies Lisa Daly and Douglas Haider and their canine partners. 

The memo says Jahnke, sitting in the driver’s seat of the RV, refused to identify himself to deputies and the woman in the car behind the RV refused to identify him, as well. According to the memo, deputies looked up the registered owners of the RV and the car and determined Jahnke and the woman didn’t resemble the owners. 

Rongitsch told Jahnke he needed to know his full name because of the reported sexual assault in an RV in nearby Little Canada. According to the memo, deputies tried to get Jahnke to identify himself for about 22 minutes, warning him that his refusal would result in his arrest for obstructing the legal process. 

After Jahnke’s continued refusal to comply, the memo says, the deputies told him he was under arrest. As Rongitsch and Daly entered the RV, Jahnke allegedly grabbed a five-gallon bucket containing fecal matter and ran towards them, making “threatening motions to throw the fecal matter,” says the memo.

Daly tased Jahnke in the leg, causing Jahnke to drop the bucket. Jahnke then, according to the memo, turned his back to the deputies and refused to turn around. Daly fired her taser again, but it failed to incapacitate him. 

The memo says Jahnke tackled Daly to the RV floor. On top of her, Jahnke grabbed Daly’s loaded gun and ripped it from her holster. The memo says BCA forensic scientists found Jahnke’s DNA on Daly’s gun and that Daly suffered injuries consistent with being tackled and wrestling with Jahnke. 

Multiple times, according to the memo, deputies told Jahnke to let go of Daly and her gun and show his hands. Deputy Haider fired his taser, hitting Jahnke in the right shoulder this time, which also failed to stop him. 

The memo says Daly screamed “He’s got my gun, he’s got my gun,” and the other deputies couldn’t see Jahnke’s hands. 

Then, multiple times, Daly yelled to Rongitsch, “Please shoot him.” Rongitsch fired a single shot at Jahnke, hitting him in the back of the head, the memo says.

Deputies administered first aid, the memo says. Jahnke was later pronounced dead at Regions Hospital. 


 

— Solomon Gustavo

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