Video: Officer, suspect shot in Wis. gun battle

By Elizabeth Beyer La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

LA CROSSE, Wis. — The La Crosse District Attorney’s Office determined Tuesday that the use of force by a La Crosse police officer in an August shooting was justified.

La Crosse police officers responded to a domestic disturbance on Aug. 3 on South Ninth Street near Cass Street when both the suspect, Allen Kruk, and one of the responding officers, Dustin Darling, were shot during an altercation. Kruk had a felony warrant for his arrest at the time of the call, according to a statement by the La Crosse Police Department.

After reviewing body camera footage, as well as the testimonies made by officers on the scene, the district attorney’s office determined the actions of Darling were reasonable acts of self-defense.

Darling, a member of the La Crosse Police Department since 2013, will not be charged with any criminal offenses in connection with the shooting, according to a press release by La Crosse District Attorney Tim Gruenke.

An investigation by the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation indicates that Darling grabbed onto Kruk’s left arm, and Kruk immediately began to pull away and began to turn his body toward Darling raising his right arm, according to the press release. As Kruk was raising his right arm, Darling recalled seeing a silver handgun with a large barrel in Kruk’s right hand. The video confirms this, according to the press release.

Kruk continued to turn toward Darling and pointed the muzzle of the handgun at the officer. Darling immediately disengaged with Kruk and backpedaled to create space.

Darling began to shoot the suspect while backing up. As he did, Darling was shot by Kruk in his ballistic vest near the chest area, according to the press release.

While backpedaling, Darling felt the bullet strike the right side of his chest. Darling thought his life was in danger, and Kruk was a threat to other responding officers as well as the children inside the residence. Darling also was concerned for the safety of Kruk’s ex-wife, according to the press release, as she remained outside and near Kruk’s location at the time Kruk shot him.

Darling then positioned himself near the farthest rear corner of the neighboring house. Officers on scene then provided medical attention, and Kruk survived his injuries, according to the press release.

The District Attorney’s Office concluded that Darling was reasonable in his beliefs that there was an imminent danger of death or great bodily harm to himself or others due to Kruk’s actions.

Although there are still results pending from the Wisconsin State Crime Lab and toxicology results from Kruk, it does not appear those analyses would contain findings that would change the analysis of the District Attorney’s Office regarding the actions of the officer as it relates to his use of deadly force, according to the press release.

Wisconsin law allows all people, including police officers, to use deadly force in an act of self-defense if the person reasonably believed that he faced an unlawful interference that created a risk of death or great bodily harm to themselves or others, according to the district attorney’s office.

Suspect in hospital

Kruk remains hospitalized. Once he’s discharged, he’ll immediately be taken to La Crosse County Jail to be booked.

District Attorney Tim Grunke said Kruk may be discharged from the hospital as early as this week.

Darling has been on administrative leave as part of the “Officer Involved Critical Incident” protocol according to a statement by the city’s Police Department.