DA clears deputy; calls officer-involved shooting "entirely appropriate"

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- The Eau Claire County District Attorney's office released a summary on Monday saying it has cleared Eau Claire County Deputy Dustin Walters after an officer-involved shooting in January.

The summary says the deputy verbally told Paul Lynch, who came outside with an assault rifle, to put his weapon down and shined a light on him.

Both the deputy and Lynch said in interviews that Lynch was the one who then fired first. That helped drive the district attorney's office in saying Deputy Walters was justified in using his gun.

"If you review all the information with respect to the entire incident, it's very clear there was the potential for a more difficult situation, given the circumstances, and thankfully that didn't happen," said Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King.

King said he reviewed the 275 page investigation, completed by Eau Claire Police, thoroughly. Meanwhile, Paul Lynch's mother still has several concerns and questions.

"How can you do a thorough job with tons of snow on the ground," she told us.

She says her son was badly injured in a motorcycle accident in 2010 and had to have parts of his brain removed. Since then she says he has suffered from mental issues.

"He wanted to die over the brain injury because he just couldn't keep things together," she added.

The report says Paul Lynch's blood alcohol level was .215. It also says Lynch was under court order to not have a gun.

His mother admits him nor should anyone with a brain condition have access to a gun. But she says she believes the bullet has left him with wounds that will change the rest of his life.

"They have taken so much away from him, punished him so hard," she added.
On January 13, 2014, Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to a report of a domestic disturbance at 5200 W. Folsom Street in the Township of Union, Eau Claire County.

Paul Lynch was known to reside at the residence and was the subject of the complaint to dispatch. The information leading to the dispatch included that Paul Lynch was threatening Gloria Hayden, and that the power to the residence had been turned off. Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Deputies approached the residence from two directions due to the dispatch information, as well as the knowledge of previous dealings with Paul Lynch and firearms.

Deputy Dustin Walters approached the front of the residence and took a position in the front yard by a large tree. Paul Lynch eventually exited the back side of the residence with an assault rifle equipped with a 30 bullet clip. Paul Lynch walked around the residence to the front of the residence. Deputy Walters communicated verbally with Paul Lynch and illuminated him with a light. Paul Lynch proceeded to fire multiple shots at Deputy Walters. Deputy Walters returned fire from his position behind the tree in the front yard. Paul Lynch again fired multiple shots at Deputy Walters while moving closer toward him. Shots were exchanged until Paul Lynch was hit in the thigh area and fell to the ground. Shortly after the shooting, a first responder attended to Paul Lynch and he was eventually taken to the hospital by ambulance.

The City of Eau Claire Police Department conducted a thorough investigation into the shooting at 5200 W. Folsom Street on January 13, 2014. A comprehensive report in excess of 275 pages was prepared and submitted to the District Attorney’s office for review. The report also included scene video, hundreds of photographs, 911 calls, and lab report findings. Both Deputy Walters and Paul Lynch were interviewed and both indicated that Lynch was the first to shoot during the incident. Laboratory findings indicate that Paul Lynch had a blood alcohol level of .215.

Additional investigation determined that Lynch had purchased the firearm used in the shooting following felony convictions earlier in 2013 for possessing a firearm contrary to a court order.

The investigation also found that Lynch made statements on the day of the shooting that he was going to shoot police and wanted to die. After a review of all of this information, it is very clear that the actions of Deputy Dustin Walters in this incident were appropriate.

The actions of Deputy Dustin Walters on January 13, 2014, were not only entirely appropriate, they likely saved multiple lives. Deputy Walters, as well as all members of the Sheriff’s Department involved in this incident, cooperated fully in the investigation of this matter.