(Fort Atkinson) The Jefferson County District Attorney says no charges will be filed in a fatal, officer-involved shooting that occurred in December. Monica Hall says the actions by State Troopers on December 9th were lawful and reasonable acts of self-defense. Read the full press-release:
Jefferson County District Attorney Monica J. Hall announced today that the actions of law enforcement officers on 12/9/2020 were lawful and reasonable acts of defense of self and others. Therefore, there will be no criminal charges in relation to the incident resulting in the death of Joseph R. Crawford-Lamal on 12/9/2020 at the intersection of WI Hwy 26 and US 12, Jefferson County, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin law allows all persons, including police officers, to use deadly force in an act of self-defense or defense of others if the person reasonably believed that he or another person face an unlawful interference that created a risk of death or great bodily harm. If, as here, the person’s actions are privileged under the law of self-defense/defense of others they cannot be convicted of any crime.
The incident surrounding the death of Joseph R. Crawford-Lamal was investigated by the Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) of the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Reports, audio recordings and video evidence from DCI, Wisconsin State Patrol, Fort Atkinson Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were provided to the Jefferson County District Attorney for review. After consideration of the evidence provided in this case and the circumstances surrounding the incident, I found there is no evidence that a crime was committed by any law enforcement officer in this case. I, therefore will not be filing any criminal charges in this matter.
Trooper Rahn gave a voluntary statement to DCI Special Agents on 12/15/2020 regarding the incident. He said on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, he was monitoring traffic using stationary radar on Hwy 26 and Hwy Y in Jefferson County, WI, where the speed limit is 65 miles per hour (mph). He was in a full uniform in a marked squad car. Trooper Rahn saw a sedan traveling southbound on Hwy 26 at an estimated speed of 80 – 85 mph. His radar registered the speed of the vehicle at 83 mph. It was determined later that the vehicle was being driven by Crawford-Lamal. I will refer to that vehicle as “the vehicle.” Trooper Rahn’s squad car was equipped with audio/visual recording equipment which captured the incident. The vehicle was visibly fast on the video.
Trooper Rahn’s squad video shows he pulled out of the center median to go south on Hwy 26 behind the vehicle. He activated the squad’s emergency lights and siren. The vehicle pulled over on the right shoulder of southbound Hwy 26 north of Ebenezer Road. When Trooper Rahn was interviewed, he told the DCI Agents he could see two people in vehicle moving around in a way that was not typical during a traffic stop. In the video, the brake lights on the rear of the
vehicle went on and off 3 times. Then the video showed the suspect vehicle drove off at a high rate of speed.
Trooper Rahn’s squad video shows he pulled out behind the vehicle. The video captured Trooper Rahn reported over the radio that they were going 100 mph in a 65 mph zone. The vehicle was passing other cars and weaving in and out of traffic.
Trooper Rahn’s squad video shows that as the vehicle, with Trooper Rahn in pursuit, neared Johnson Creek, just past “old 26,” the vehicle avoided a tire deflation device on the road. That device was set out by Trooper Pung. Trooper Pung was interviewed on 12/9/21 by Special Agents. He placed the tire deflation device so it was in the left lane of Southbound Highway 26. The device was visible in the video from Trooper Rahn’s squad. Trooper Pung said as the vehicle approached his location, he estimated it was traveling at 100 mph. Trooper Pung said the vehicle swerved to the right to avoid the tire deflation device. Trooper Rahn’s squad video showed the vehicle went to the right, over the right fog line to avoid the device.
Trooper Vick was interviewed by Special Agents. He told them he placed a tire deflation device, further south on Hwy 26, at the intersection with the frontage road that leads to onramp of I-94. The vehicle went over the tire deflation device he placed. He said shortly after the vehicle went over the device, the vehicle pulled over. Trooper Rahn’s squad video showed this. It also showed when the vehicle stopped in the turn lane to the frontage road, the passenger door opened and the passenger got out with his hands up. The vehicle then continued to drive southbound on Hwy 26.
Trooper Rahn’s video showed the stop lights on Hwy 26 were all red. The vehicle did not stop for any of them. After the vehicle came under the overpass for I-94, as it approached an area with businesses, including a gas station, retail stores and restaurants, Trooper Rahn’s video captured a bullet hitting the ground. Trooper Rahn called “shots fired” over the radio.
Trooper Daniels also spoke to DCI Agents. He said he was stopped at the intersection of Hwy 26 and Hartwig Blvd, just after the over pass for I-94 where there are numerous businesses. He was also ready to deploy a tire deflation device if Trooper Vick’s device had not been successful. As the vehicle passed him, he could see the driver of the vehicle extend his hand out of the window and discharge a handgun one time. Trooper Daniels told Special Agents where he believed the spent casing may be. One of the Special Agents recovered a spent shell casing on the left shoulder of the roadway where Trooper Daniels believed it would be found.
Trooper Rahn told the DCI Agents as they continued on Hwy 26 near County Highway B, he heard a gunshot. His squad video shows fellow Trooper Polizzi was at that intersection with his marked squad. On the opposite side of the road at this location is an elementary school. At that time Trooper Polizzi called out over the radio that the suspect shot at him. Trooper Polizzi’s squad’s audio/visual recording equipment also captured the incident. In his squad’s video, the driver’s hand was outside of the car window, pointing a gun at Trooper Polizzi as he passed by. Trooper Polizzi joined in the pursuit immediately thereafter.
Trooper Rahn’s squad video shows the vehicle’s tires begin to smoke just before the intersection of Hwy 26 and County Highway Y. As the vehicle crossed Y, one of the tires came off of the vehicle. The video shows the driver began to lose control of the vehicle and was not able to always maintain its lane. Trooper Rahn’s squad remained behind the vehicle, well in visual range, but back a little bit. A short time later, another tire fell off of the vehicle.
As the vehicle continued down Hwy 26, before the City of Jefferson exits, Trooper Rahn’s squad video captured the driver’s hand holding a black object out of the window. This was also visible on Trooper Polizzi’s squad video. Trooper Rahn reported over the radio that the driver was waving the gun out of the car.
Trooper Rahn’s squad video shows the vehicle got off of Hwy 26 at the first Jefferson exit, for Business 26. However, the vehicle immediately got back onto Hwy 26, without stopping at the stop sign. As the vehicle got back onto 26, Trooper Rahn’s video showed other squads in pursuit. As the vehicle continued on Hwy 26, more of the tires shredded and the vehicle started to weave over both lanes of traffic.
Trooper Rahn’s squad video captured him informing other law enforcement in pursuit he was going to attempt a “PIT” maneuver when it was safe to do so. He told the DCI Agents a “PIT” maneuver is a technique used to try to stop the fleeing vehicle where he would have his squad vehicle make contact with the vehicle’s rear quarter panel, which would cause the vehicle to spin out. Trooper Rahn told Special Agents that this maneuver is considered deadly force by his department’s policy. At the time he announced he was going to try the maneuver, he feared for his safety, the safety of his fellow officers and the general public. He was less than a mile before the Hwy 18 exit when he announced he was going to try the maneuver. He was passed the Hwy 18 exit, and approaching the exit to Hwy 89 when his squad video shows he got close to the vehicle. A lot of tire debris was flying off the vehicle at the time. Trooper Rahn announced over the radio, as he got close, that the driver waived a gun at him through the back window. The video shows Trooper Rahn’s squad abruptly hung back and didn’t follow the vehicle as closely.
Trooper Rahn’s squad video showed the vehicle again exited Hwy 26 at the Business 26/89 Jefferson exit. The vehicle got back onto Hwy 26, not stopping at the stop sign. While the squads were going through the intersection, Trooper Rahn’s video captured him telling the other officers over the radio that there was something wrong with his transmission and he asked for another squad to take the lead. Trooper Polizzi’s squad camera shows he took the lead as the squads were on the onramp back onto Hwy 26.
Trooper Polizzi’s squad video captured him reporting that the driver pointed the gun out of the window and possibly shot at Sheriff’s Deputies as the driver entered back onto Hwy 26. Trooper Polizzi’s squad video shows the driver’s hand pointed up out of the driver’s side window just after the vehicle got back onto Hwy 26 from the onramp. Other squads were visible on Hwy 26 at that location, as some of the squads did not get off of Hwy 26 at the Hwy 89 exit.
Trooper Rahn’s and Trooper Polizzi’s squad videos (as well as others) show the vehicle exited Hwy 26 at US 12 in Jefferson County, WI. The vehicle came to rest on the median on US 12. Trooper Rahn’s video showed the driver got out of the vehicle on the driver’s side. He left the door open. The Troopers and Sheriff’s Deputies got out of their squads and took positions of cover. Law enforcement officers were captured on the video yelling, “Put your hands up,” “Get your hands up,” “Put the gun down, put it down now,” and “Don’t move.”
Trooper Williams’ squad video also visually recorded this incident. It showed the driver calmly walked away from the vehicle. The man then approached a SUV that pulled over on US 12 near where the vehicle was stuck in the median. He pointed a handgun at the officers. He then aimed the handgun at the driver of the SUV. He approached the driver’s door of the SUV and then the rear passenger door of the SUV. It appeared he tried to open the doors. He then turned his body away from the SUV. He pointed his gun at the Troopers. He then appeared to get shot and fell down.
Trooper Rahn’s squad video does not have a good view of the man getting out of the vehicle, but it does show the man pointed his gun at officers, approached the SUV with the gun pointed at the driver, tried the driver and passenger’s doors and turned around. The sound of gun shots can be heard before the man fell. No shots are heard after he fell.
Trooper Rahn’s and Trooper Polizzi’s squad videos (as well as others) recorded the sound of 7 shots being fired. DCI collected seven fired cartridge cases from the scene. All 7 cartridge cases were consistent with the ammunition used in Wisconsin State Patrol rifles.
Trooper Williams’ squad video showed the SUV slowly drove away. Troopers then approached where the man was. They flipped him over, appeared to handcuff him, then appeared to start administering first aid.
Trooper Rahn told Special Agents he feared for the safety of the driver of the SUV. He believed the man was going to carjack the SUV by threat of force or use of force. He couldn’t fire his handgun because from where he was positioned, the driver of the SUV was directly behind the man with the handgun. Trooper Rahn said he started to move toward the man, but when shots were fired, he retreated to cover. He turned and saw the man fall to the ground.
Trooper Rahn told DCI Agents he and Trooper Polizzi approached the man and put handcuffs on him. Trooper Rahn told the Special Agents he saw the man’s gun but could not remember where. After the man was in handcuffs, he, Trooper Heinisch and Trooper Polizzi started lifesaving measures until EMS arrived.
Trooper Polizzi told the DCI Special Agents when the vehicle crashed into the median, the driver, a man, got out of the vehicle with a handgun in his hand. The man pointed the handgun at Trooper Polizzi while he was walking to the front of the crashed car. Trooper Polizzi said he ordered the man to put the gun down on multiple occasions. The man did not put the gun down and he walked toward citizen traffic on eastbound US 12.
Trooper Polizzi told Agents the man approached a SUV and pointed the handgun toward the driver’s side. At that time, Trooper Polizzi moved from his squad to the rear passenger side corner of the vehicle that was in the median between the eastbound and westbound lanes of US 12. Trooper Polizzi again ordered the man to drop the gun. The man turned to face him and other law enforcement officers. The man raised the handgun and aimed it in the direction of Trooper Polizzi and other officers. Trooper Polizzi decided to utilize deadly force at that time because he feared for his life, the life of other officers in the area and the occupants of the SUV.
Trooper Polizzi told DCI Agents he fired his rifle. He saw the man and the handgun both fall to the ground. Trooper Polizzi stopped firing his rifle at that time.
Trooper Polizzi told DCI Agents he, Trooper Williams and Trooper Heinisch approached the man who was lying on his back on the ground. Trooper Polizzi saw the handgun on the ground near the man’s feet. He did not believe that the handgun was within the man’s reach at this time. Trooper Polizzi rolled the man over onto his stomach and he placed handcuffs on the man with his hands behind his back, searched his clothing for any other weapons, then he and other law enforcement personnel began conducting life-saving measures.
Trooper Heinisch spoke to DCI Agents as well. He said when the vehicle crashed on US 12, he parked his squad behind another squad. He got his rifle, got out of his squad, moved to the passenger side of the squad that was parked in front of him and opened the front passenger door of that vehicle to use as cover.
Trooper Heinisch told DCI Agents he could see the male driver was holding a black pistol in his right hand as he walked up to the front of the SUV. The man pointed the pistol at the driver of the SUV through the front windshield and through the driver’s window. Trooper Heinisch thought there was a high possibility that man would shoot the driver of the SUV, take the SUV and continue to flee. Trooper Heinisch told DCI Agents he did not shoot the man at that point because there was too high of a risk of Trooper Heinisch hitting the driver of the SUV.
Trooper Heinisch told DCI Agents the man then lowered the pistol and walked towards the rear of the SUV. When he made it to the rear of the SUV, the man made eye contact with Trooper Heinisch and other law enforcement officers. The man pointed the black handgun in the direction of law enforcement.
Trooper Heinisch told DCI Agents he feared for his life and for the life of the other law enforcement officers that were on scene. Trooper Heinisch fired his riffle at the man to stop the threat. The man fell to the ground. Trooper Heinisch said he and Trooper Polizzi secured the man in handcuffs and began life saving measures.
Trooper Williams told DCI Agents he stopped his cruiser at the bottom of the ramp and parked as far to the right as possible when the vehicle exited onto US 12. He saw that Trooper Polizzi had also stopped and was parked in the westbound lanes of Highway 12, facing south. He was standing outside of his cruiser by the driver’s side. He had his rifle up to his shoulder, when he saw the driver’s door of the vehicle opened and a man get out. Trooper Williams aimed his rifle at the man as he yelled as loudly as he could for the man to put his hands up. The man did not comply with the command. Instead, the man began walking toward the front bumper area of the vehicle.
Trooper Williams told DCI Agents he could see the man was armed with a dark colored handgun which he had in his right hand. The man started to walk northwest toward the eastbound lanes of US Highway 12. Trooper Williams could see from his peripheral vision that Trooper Polizzi had his rifle and was moving up toward the vehicle. In order to avoid any possibility of crossfire, Trooper Williams also began to move forward.
Trooper Williams told DCI Agents the man was standing directly in front of a SUV that had stopped in the eastbound lane of US 12. Trooper Williams saw the man walk towards the driver’s side door of the SUV. The man then started to turn as he extended his right
arm out and pointed the gun in his and Trooper Polizzi’s direction. Trooper Williams said that he feared for his life and the life of Trooper Polizzi who was in his vicinity and he fired his riffle at the man. He saw that the man was struck and was going down, so he did not continue to fire his weapon.
Trooper Williams told the DCI Agents that after the shooting occurred, he and four other law enforcement officers approached the man who had fallen to the roadway. He said that as they advanced, he looked in the vehicle briefly and did not see anyone else inside it. He did not see the handgun the man had until someone called out that it was on the ground.
Trooper Williams told the DCI Agents that after the man was handcuffed, the group of officers that approached the subject began to render aid.
Trooper Pung told DCI Agents as his fellow officers were administering first aid, he saw a firearm at the driver’s feet. He kicked the firearm away. Later, he picked it up. He removed the magazine and a round from the chamber. He did not remove any rounds from the magazine. He put the items in a paper bag and gave that bag to a Sheriff’s Deputy.
Shortly after the incident Special Agents viewed the vehicle which had come to rest in the median of US 12. The vehicle had damage to three of the four tires. The front two tires were missing all of their rubber. The front passenger side rim was deformed and showed significant mass loss with only the center of the rim remaining. Due to no rubber remaining on the front two tires, the vehicle was traveling on the metal rim and left damage marks on the concrete road surfaces of the Hwy 26 southbound off-ramp and through the intersection of US 12. The rear passenger side tire showed significant damage to the rubber of the tire, was deflated and no longer held its shape. There was damage located on the front passenger side quarter panel and hood of the vehicle. There was a large dent on the rear passenger side quarter panel behind the rear passenger door.
DCI Agents spoke to a citizen witness who said on12/9/20 he pulled his truck over to the side of the road when he saw a car in the median of US 12. He said he saw the driver of that vehicle get out of it with a firearm in his hand, pointed at the ground. He also saw a lot of squads, so he drove on. He then heard gunshots. He looked back and saw an SUV pull up alongside of his truck.
The citizen said the driver of the SUV and he rolled down their windows to talk to one another. The citizen asked the driver of the SUV if the driver was okay. The driver said, “He had a gun to my head.” The citizen said the driver said this 3-4 times and appeared frightened and upset. The driver of the SUV got out and looked for damage. The driver’s side rear passenger tire of the SUV was damaged.
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Doebereiner interviewed the driver of the SUV. The driver was on US 12 when the driver saw a number of squad cars. The driver slowed down because the driver thought there was a crash. A man approached the driver’s door and the passenger-side door of the SUV. The doors were locked so man could not get in. He pointed a gun at the driver’s head.
According to reports written by Jefferson County Sherriff’s Detective Leah Meyer, fellow Sheriff’s Detective Ryan McIntyre used the MorpholIDent on scene to identify the driver of the vehicle while he was still in the ambulance. The systems identified him as Joseph R. Crawford-Lamal.
On 12-10-2020 DCI Special Agent Tijerino witnessed the Autopsy of Joseph R. Crawford-Lamal, at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office. Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Wieslawa Tlomak, MD determined the cause of death was gunshot wounds.
For these reasons, I find the facts in this case do not support probable cause to believe Alexander Polizzi, David Heinisch or Keegan Williams committed a crime.