The Eau Claire County District Attorney is calling an August 7 shooting a justified use of force.
Gary King released his report on Deputy James Haworth and Deputy Dan Eaton on Monday. The two fired shots at Reese Diesterhaft in the Town of Brunswick after a multi-county high-speed chase. According to a criminal complaint filed in August, Diesterhaft told deputies that he purposefully drove up to law enforcement officials “to get shot” during the chase. Diesterhaft was taken to a hospital and survived the shooting.
The following is King's full report:
PRESS RELEASE – OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING AUGUST 7, 2018
On August 7, 2018, an officer-involved shooting took place in the Town of Brunswick, Eau Claire County. The incident involved Eau Claire County Deputies James Haworth and Dan Eaton. Both deputies responded to assist the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department with a pursuit near the county line on Highway 85. The subject of the pursuit, later identified as Reese Diesterhaft, had displayed a gun while being pursued. Diesterhaft fled the pursuit of Dunn County authorities and for a period of time, his location was unknown. During this time, authorities from Dunn County and Eau Claire County communicated and a perimeter was established. Sometime after the perimeter was established, a decision was made to discontinue the perimeter, as the suspect vehicle was not located. Shortly after this, the suspect vehicle reemerged near Jene Road and Spehle Road. Deputy Haworth communicated that he had located the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle flashed its lights at Deputy Haworth and began to back up on the road in the direction of Deputy Eaton. The suspect vehicle eventually stopped backing up and Reese Diesterhaft exited the vehicle with a long gun. Diesterhaft then began to walk toward law enforcement while holding the long gun. Diesterhaft also pointed the weapon at law enforcement. In response, both Deputy Haworth and Deputy Eaton fired shots at Diesterhaft. Diesterhaft sustained two wounds from these shots. Diesterhaft was airlifted to Mayo hospital where he was treated for the wounds he sustained. Diesterhaft survived the shooting.
Pursuant to the laws of the State of Wisconsin, an outside law enforcement agency was charged with conducting an investigation of this incident. A thorough investigation was performed by the City of Eau Claire Police Department. The lead investigator was Detective Sergeant Mark Pieper. The investigation included narratives, records, videos and recorded interviews, hundreds of photographs, and miscellaneous other information.
Reese Diesterhaft Status on August 7, 2018 A review of records shows that on August 7, 2018, Reese Diesterhaft had two outstanding warrants for his arrest. The first warrant was for Dunn County case 12 CM 339. The warrant in that matter was authorized on August 21, 2012. The second warrant originated from the State of South Dakota. Diesterhaft had recently been released from prison and had absconded from supervision.
Interviews of Deputy James Haworth
Deputy James Haworth was interviewed two times as part of the investigation. The first interview was a scene walkthrough that took place on August 7, 2018 with Detective Pieper and Lieutenant Dahlgren. Deputy Haworth’s squad car was positioned approximately fifty yards east of the suspect vehicle and the vehicles were facing each other. Deputy Haworth recalled the suspect getting out of his vehicle. Deputy Haworth exited his vehicle and ran to the rear of his squad car and took up a cover position along the right rear corner. Deputy Haworth noticed the suspect had a rifle in his hands. When Deputy Haworth looked around his squad car he observed the suspect walking towards him with the rifle. The next time Deputy Haworth looked around his squad car, the suspect was pointing the rifle at him. At this point, Deputy Haworth fired his weapon.
Deputy Haworth was also interviewed by Detective Pieper and Menomonie Police Sergeant Chad Mroczenski on August 9, 2018. Deputy Haworth agreed to meet voluntarily and answer questions. Deputy Haworth advised that he graduated from UWEC in 1993 with a criminal justice degree. He completed the basic recruit academy at CVTC in 1994. He was hired by the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Department in 1995. After working two years in the jail, he transferred to his current position of Patrol Deputy in 1997.
Deputy Haworth advised that he is assigned to the day shift and that his work hours are 0600 to 1430 hours. On the day of the incident, Deputy Haworth advised that he was assigned to Area 4, which is Highway 93 and east to Fall Creek. Deputy Haworth advised that he had a normal night of sleep the previous evening and had not consumed any intoxicants nor taken any medications that would affect his judgment.
Deputy Haworth advised he is assigned a fully marked black Ford Police Interceptor. The vehicle is equipped with overhead lights. The vehicle is also equipped with an AR-style .223 caliber rifle and a dedicated less lethal shotgun designed for deployment of less lethal bean bag rounds. The vehicle is also equipped with a dashcam video system. Deputy Haworth described in detail his work uniform for the date of the incident, as well as the equipment on his black duty belt. Deputy Haworth described his duty handgun as a 40 caliber Glock, model 22 with an attached Streamlight model TLR weapon light.
Deputy Haworth advised that on the date of the incident, he checked on duty at 0600 hours. Deputy Haworth recalled investigating a hit and run crash up until lunchtime. He recalled his lunch break starting at approximately 1400 hours. During his lunch break, Deputy Haworth advised that he heard a radio broadcast on the main frequency regarding a pursuit occurring in Dunn County. Deputy Haworth recalled the broadcast noting that the suspect had committed a theft and possibly having a gun. Deputy Haworth did not recall the exact location of the pursuit but knew it was somewhere near the Dunn/Eau Claire county line on Highway 85.
Deputy Haworth reports that he responded in that direction and also recalled hearing other Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Deputies responding to the area. Deputy Haworth advised that he took County Road F to County Road II to County Road B to County Road Z. From County Road Z, he arrived in the area of the pursuit. Deputy Haworth drove to the area of Spehle Road and was aware that Dunn County officials had lost sight of the suspect vehicle. Eau Claire County dispatch relayed information from Dunn County that the suspect was observed by Dunn County Deputies with a rifle during the pursuit. The suspect vehicle was described as a blue GM pickup truck with visible rust.
Deputy Haworth advised that he got to the area of Jene Road and Cemetery Road where he met up with Captain Brettingen. At this point, a perimeter was being established in the area. Deputy Haworth proceeded to the area of Spehle Road at Jene Road, continuing to look for the suspect while driving west on Spehle Road. When he reached the intersection of Spehle Road and Maple Drive Road, Deputy Haworth saw Deputy Eaton. Deputy Haworth then drove back to Spehle Road and Jene Road where he waited and watched. Deputy Haworth saw Dunn County squad cars drive through the area. While at this perimeter post, Deputy Haworth recalled that is began to rain.
Deputy Haworth reports that for a variety of reasons, Lieutenant Schalinske advised that they were going to break down the perimeter. Before Deputy Haworth was able to clear the area, he recalled seeing a pickup truck driving towards him, eastbound on Jene Road. Deputy Haworth noted the vehicle was equipped with a white light LED light bar. Deputy Haworth noticed that the driver was turning the light bar on and off. Deputy Haworth noted that the vehicle then began to back down Spehle Road, moving westbound with the vehicle facing eastbound. Based on the odd driving behavior, Deputy Haworth suspected that this was the suspect vehicle. Deputy Haworth radioed Captain Brettingen that he believed he had the suspect vehicle on Spehle Road and began following the vehicle slowly westbound. Deputy Haworth also radioed Deputy Eaton that the suspect vehicle was backing up in his direction.
Deputy Haworth reports that he saw the suspect vehicle come to a stop. The vehicle was still facing east with its LED light bar activated. Deputy Haworth angles his car slightly to the left to provide some added cover. Deputy Haworth believed that Captain Brettingen was approaching him from the east as well. Deputy Haworth saw the suspect vehicle’s driver’s side door open. Deputy Haworth opened his own door and exited his vehicle with his patrol rifle. While at his perimeter post, Deputy Haworth recalled hearing the suspect had a rifle and was possibly trying to set up an ambush. Deputy Haworth also recalled activating his L3 recorder.
Deputy Haworth reports that as he stepped out from his post, he yelled for the suspect to “show his hands” or “put his hands up.” The suspect was then observed with a scoped rifle. Deputy Haworth yelled “he’s got a rifle.” Deputy Haworth recalls using his squad car for cover. Deputy Haworth advised he felt he had nowhere to go at this point as to his left was a steep embankment and to his right was an open field. Deputy Haworth recalls looking around the corner of his squad car and seeing the suspect getting closer to him. Deputy Haworth recalls the suspect raising his rifle to the shooting position and aiming it at him. At this point, Deputy Haworth feared for his safety and recalled thinking he needed to stop the threat before he was shot. Deputy Haworth advised that he put his red dot sight on the suspect and fired several shots. Deputy Haworth believed he fired four to six rounds total.
Deputy Haworth saw the suspect fall in the south ditch. Deputy Haworth still feared for his life and believed the suspect may be taking up a new shooting position. Deputy Haworth reports he fired approximately two more rounds during this time. Deputy Haworth recalls that he advised dispatch that shots were fired, the suspect was down and that the deputies were ok. Deputy Haworth continued giving verbal commands for the suspect to show his hands. Deputy Haworth saw that the suspect’s hands were empty at this point but did not know where the rifle was located. Deputy Haworth reports that Deputy Henning and Deputy Zurek approached the suspect from the left side of his squad car while he and Captain Brettingen approached from the right side. As they approached, they continued giving the suspect commands to show his hands as they continued to point their rifles at the suspect. As Deputy Haworth reached the truck, he transitioned to his pistol. Deputy Haworth advised that he and Captain Brettingen cleared the truck. Once the scene was safe, Deputy Haworth advised that other deputies rendered aid to the suspect. Deputy Haworth advised that he stepped to the side of the road and met with Lieutenant Schalinske and turned his rifle over to him.
Interviews of Deputy Dan Eaton
Deputy Dan Eaton was interviewed two times as part of the investigation. The first interview was a scene walkthrough that took place on August 7, 2018 with Detective Pieper and Menomonie Police Sergeant Chad Mroczenski. Deputy Eaton recalled the suspect vehicle coming to an abrupt stop in the roadway. Deputy Eaton recalled the suspect getting out of his truck and that things happened really quickly. Deputy Eaton recalled the suspect brandishing the rifle. Deputy Eaton recalled firing at least two rounds through his windshield at the suspect. After firing his weapon, Deputy Eaton got out of his squad car and took a cover position along the right rear bumper. From this position, he could see the suspect down in the ditch. Deputy Eaton gave the suspect verbal commands to show his hands.
Deputy Eaton was interviewed a second time on August 9, 2018 by Detective Pieper and Menomonie Police Sergeant Chad Mroczenski. Deputy Eaton agreed to meet voluntarily and answer questions. Deputy Eaton advised that he graduated from UW Stout in 2008. He completed the basic recruit academy at CVTC in 2010. He was a reserve Sheriff’s Deputy with Dunn County and a part-time Police Officer in Fall Creek for approximately one year starting in January 2011. He was hired as a Probation Agent by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections in January of 2012 and worked there until December of 2015. He was hired as a Deputy Sheriff in Eau Claire County in April of 2017.
Deputy Eaton advised that he is assigned to the afternoon shift and on the date of the incident, it was the second day of his work week. Deputy Eaton advised he got a normal night’s sleep the night before his shift. Deputy Eaton advised he did not have any alcohol or medications the night before or the day of the incident. He checked in for duty at 1400 hours. Deputy Eaton is assigned a fully marked Ford Police Interceptor. His squad is equipped with an AR-style semiautomatic .223 caliber rifle and a dedicated less lethal shotgun. His patrol rifle is a Rock River Arms LAR 15 with a Vortex magnified optic with a lighted reticle. His squad car is also equipped with a mobile data terminal and an L3 brand video system. The microphone for the video system is attached to his uniform vest.
On the date of the incident, Deputy Eaton was dressed in a Class C uniform. This included a tan polo shirt with Eau Claire County patches on each shoulder, a tan vest, a vest carrier with his badge, olive drab cargo pants, and black 5.11 brand boots. Deputy Eaton wore a black duty belt. Deputy Eaton advised that at the time of the incident, the microphone for his squad camera was in its charging dock. Deputy Eaton’s duty handgun in a Glock, model 22 with an attached Streamlight, model TLR weapon light.
On the date of the incident, Deputy Eaton was assigned to area 2, which is Highway K to the east end of the county. Deputy Eaton recalled hearing on the primary frequency of a pursuit in Dunn County that was likely entering Eau Claire County. The broadcast also mentioned the suspect may be armed. The suspect vehicle was described as an older blue Chevrolet pickup with Iowa license plates. Deputy Eaton said the Deputy Gunderson advised he would stay in area 2 so Deputy Eaton could assist Dunn County. Deputy Eaton travelled to the area of the pursuit, utilizing Highway 37, Highway 85, Maple Drive Road and Spehle Road. Deputy Eaton met briefly with a Dunn County Deputy. Deputy Eaton was informed that they lost the suspect somewhere on Spehle Road or Jene Road. Deputy Eaton learned the suspect was observed with a rifle during the pursuit. Deputy Eaton recalls broadcasting information he received from Dunn County, including the name of the possible suspect.
Deputy Eaton stayed in the area while a perimeter was organized. Deputy Eaton first positioned himself along the west ditch of Maple Drive Road facing south. A short time later, he repositioned to Spehle Road and Maple Drive Road, parking in a field access road on the south side of Spehle Road facing north. At this time, it began to rain. Eventually the search was called off. Shortly thereafter, Deputy Eaton recalled hearing Deputy Haworth say that he thought he had the suspect vehicle at his perimeter location of Spehle Road and Jene Road. Deputy Haworth stated that the vehicle was slowly backing down Spehle Road. Deputy Eaton began driving east down Spehle Road. After a short distance, Deputy Eaton saw the suspect vehicle and noticed that its reverse lights were activated. Deputy Eaton continued driving east on Spehle Road towards the suspect vehicle. Deputy Eaton activated his emergency lights and then saw that Deputy Haworth’s emergency lights were activated as well.
As Deputy Eaton continued driving towards the suspect vehicle, he saw the suspect get out. As Deputy Eaton was coming to a stop, he saw the suspect was armed with a long gun of some type. Deputy Eaton thought the suspect was pointing the gun at him. Deputy Eaton feared for his and Deputy Haworth’s life. Deputy Eaton ducked down behind his dashboard for cover and grabbed his patrol rifle. When he came back up, the suspect had moved from the area of his driver’s door to the ditch along the south side of Spehle Road. Deputy Eaton still feared for his life at that point and raised his rifle up and squeezed the trigger. When nothing happened, Deputy Eaton realized he had forgotten to put a round in the chamber. Deputy Eaton then did so and proceeded to fire approximately two rounds through his windshield at the suspect. Deputy Eaton then got out of his squad car and moved to the right rear panel for cover and began giving the suspect commands to show his hands. Detective Greener then came up from behind him and offered to take his position. Deputy Eaton held his position, covering the suspect until the scene was rendered safe and aid could be provided to the suspect.
Interview of Captain Joel Brettingen
Detective Lambeseder reports that he interviewed Captain Joel Brettingen as part of the investigation. Captain Brettingen advised that on the date of the incident, he heard Dunn County officials were in pursuit of a suspect vehicle and it was heading into Eau Claire County. Captain Brettingen said that while he was driving toward the location, he heard that Dunn County officials had lost sight of the suspect. Captain Brettingen advised that he took a stationary position as a search of the suspect took place. After the search was called off, Captain Brettingen advised that he heard Deputy Haworth advise on the radio that he had a truck coming towards him with its lights flashing. Captain Brettingen knew Deputy Haworth’s location was at Jene Road and Spehle Road. Captain Brettingen said he headed in that direction. As he approached the location of Deputy Haworth, he intended to pull up next to Deputy Haworth but saw the suspect pointing a gun at Deputy Haworth. Captain Brettingen said at that point he knew they were in trouble and their lives were in danger.
Captain Brettingen said he got out of his squad to take cover. At this time, he heard Deputy Haworth shoot and yell shots fired. Captain Brettingen said he heard shots from both directions. Captain Brettingen said he saw the suspect in the ditch and heard Deputy Haworth giving the suspect commands to show his hands. Captain Brettingen said Detective Henning and Deputy Zurek came up behind him and approached the suspect. Captain Brettingen said the suspect’s vehicle was cleared and that he observed the suspect’s gun laying on the ground in front of the suspect’s truck.
Interview of Detective Don Henning
Detective Prock reports that he interviewed Detective Don Henning as part of the investigation. Detective Henning advised that on August 7, 2018, he heard on the radio that Dunn County officials were involved in a chase that was headed towards the Eau Claire County line. The radio traffic sounded as if the suspect was trying to set up an ambush with officers. Detective Henning advised that he responded to the area and took up a perimeter position at Highway 85 and Cemetery Road. Detective Henning advised that at some point, a decision was made to break down the perimeter. Shortly after this, Deputy Haworth advised that he saw the suspect vehicle. Detective Henning said he knew Deputy Haworth was at Jene Road and Spehle Road and that he started driving towards him. Detective Henning advised he heard Deputy Haworth say the suspect is “backing up.” Detective Henning advised that when he turned onto Jene Road he heard “shots fired” over the radio.
Detective Henning advised that when arrived on scene, Deputy Haworth’s vehicle was parked in front of Captain Brettingen’s vehicle. Detective Henning said that Captain Brettingen was covering the suspect while Deputy Haworth was moving to the driver’s side of his vehicle. Detective Henning said he exited his vehicle with his rifle and was informed the suspect was down in the ditch and the suspect’s rifle was lying in the road. Detective Henning advised that he and Deputy Zurek moved toward the suspect with their rifles pointed at the suspect while giving the suspect commands to show his hands. Detective Henning heard the suspect state that he was hurt. Detective Henning advised the suspect to lay on his side while Deputy Zurek approached the suspect and checked him for weapons. Detective Henning stated it was decided not to place the suspect in handcuffs due to his injuries and that Deputy Zurek would then stay with the suspect. Detective Henning advised that EMS arrived on scene and the suspect was eventually placed onto a helicopter for transport.
Interview of Detective Ryan Greener
Detective Prock reports that he interviewed Detective Ryan Greener as part of the investigation. Detective Greener said that he was aware of a dispatch that involved a drive with a long gun. Following the dispatch information, Detective Greener drove to the area as described by dispatch and took a perimeter position on Maple Drive Road. Detective Greener reports that he heard Deputy Haworth advise that he had located the suspect on Spehle Road. Detective Greener said he then drove south on Maple Drive Road until it intersected with Spehle Road. Detective Greener advised that as he turned onto Spehle Road, he heard gunshots. Detective Greener advised he pulled up behind Deputy Eaton’s squad car and observed Deputy Eaton by the rear driver’s side corner of Deputy Eaton’s squad car. Detective Greener stated he observed a truck in front of the squad car and also observed Deputy Haworth’s squad car facing him.
Detective Greener advised he was able to see the suspect in the south ditch and that the suspect was lying face down. As Detective Greener exited his squad, he heard Deputy Eaton giving the suspect commands and that the suspect did roll over and show his hands. Detective Greener said he approached Deputy Eaton and confirmed that he was ok. While doing so, Detective Greener indicated he was covering the suspect with his rifle and noticed the suspect did not have a shirt on and was only wearing shorts. At about this time, Detective Greener observed Detective Henning and Deputy Zurek approaching the suspect from the east. Detective Greener observed Deputy Zurek make contact with the suspect and tell the suspect that EMS was on the way. Detective Greener advised that they stayed with the suspect until EMS arrived. As Detective Greener was assisting Deputy Zurek, the suspect stated “I wasn’t going to hurt you guys, I just didn’t want to go back to prison.”
Interview of Detective Brian Trowbridge
Detective Lambeseder reports that he interviewed Detective Brian Trowbridge as part of the investigation. Detective Trowbridge advised he was at his desk writing reports when he heard over the radio of a pursuit in Dunn County that was headed toward Eau Claire County. The information in the dispatch included a Dunn County Deputy observing a long gun in the suspect’s vehicle. Detective Trowbridge said he took Highway 85 and took a stationary post at Schuh Road and Townline Road.
Detective Trowbridge stayed in this position until he was advised that units could break down the established perimeter. About a minute later, Detective Trowbridge advised that Deputy Haworth radioed a pickup was approaching him and that Deputy Haworth believed it was the suspect’s vehicle. Deputy Haworth advised that the truck was flashing its lights and then was backing up away from him down Spehle Road.
Detective Trowbridge advised that while enroute to Deputy Haworth’s location, he heard radio traffic that shots were being fired. Detective Trowbridge activated his emergency lights and proceeded on Spehle Road to the scene. Upon arrival, Detective Trowbridge parked behind Detective Greener and Deputy Eaton’s vehicles. Detective Trowbridge said he observed Detective Greener and Deputy Eaton outside of Deputy Eaton’s squad and also observed the suspect in the ditch. Detective Trowbridge saw the suspect showing his hands and he did not have anything in them at that point. Detective Trowbridge said he held cover on the suspect and saw Deputy Zurek moving towards the suspect. Detective Trowbridge said the suspect was wearing shorts but did not have a shirt on. Detective Trowbridge observed a wound in the suspect’s shoulder. Detective Trowbridge heard Deputy Zurek call out the suspect by name and continue to talk to the suspect, keeping him alert. Detective Trowbridge observed the bleeding of the suspect to be minimal. The suspect was provided a blanket. Shortly after that, a first responder arrived. Detective Trowbridge said he then went and taped off the area of the shooting. Detective Trowbridge did advise that while Deputy Zurek was talking to the suspect, the suspect said he didn’t want to shoot the officers, he just didn’t want to go back to prison.
Interview of Deputy Paul Zurek
Detective Lambeseder reports that he interviewed Deputy Paul Zurek as part of the investigation. Deputy Zurek advised that on the incident date, he heard on the radio that Dunn County officials were in a chase that was headed into Eau Claire County. Deputy Zurek stated that he headed to the area and attempted to locate the suspect. Deputy Zurek said that he kept driving the perimeter and that it had started to rain. Deputy Zurek said he was advised that he could leave his post. Shortly after this, Deputy Haworth advised that he saw a truck in front of him flashing his lights at him. Deputy Zurek knew that Deputy Haworth was located at Jene Road and Spehle Road so he headed in that direction. Deputy Zurek said that Deputy Haworth advised the truck was now backing up on Spehle Road heading in the direction of Deputy Eaton. As Deputy Zurek was heading toward the location, he heard Deputy Haworth say on the radio that shots were fired and the officers were ok.
Deputy Zurek advised that he arrived right behind Detective Henning. Deputy Zurek said Deputy Haworth was yelling commands to the suspect of “show me your hands.” Deputy Zurek said he saw a scoped rifle in front of the suspect’s vehicle in the roadway. Deputy Zurek advised that he and Detective Henning approached the suspect to take him into custody. Deputy Zurek said he could see the suspect’s hands and also observed a wound in the suspect’s right shoulder. Deputy Zurek advised that there were enough officers around so he put his rifle down and put on latex gloves. Deputy Zurek said that Detective Henning told the suspect to lay down. Deputy Zurek did not locate any other weapons. The suspect said he was not bleeding much. Given the injuries to the suspect, the decision was made not to handcuff the suspect. Deputy Zurek said he spoke with the suspect to keep him calm and had him remain still until EMS arrived. Deputy Zurek said he learned the suspects name and age. Deputy Zurek said the suspect said he was not going to shoot at officers and that he didn’t want to go back to prison. Deputy Zurek said a blanket was provided to the suspect. Deputy Zurek said that after EMS arrived, he stepped back.
Interview of DD
Detective Pieper reports that he interviewed DD on August 7, 2018. DD is the father of Reese Diesterhaft. DD said he lives in rural Dunn County. DD went over details of Reese Diesterhaft’s upbringing as well as his current status. DD confirmed that Reese Diesterhaft had recently gotten out of prison in South Dakota. DD estimated that this was about four or five months ago. DD said he and Reese Diesterhaft stayed in regular contact by phone. DD said on Monday, August 6, 2018, Reese Diesterhaft showed up at his residence unannounced. DD said this was the first time he had seen Reese Diesterhaft in roughly six years. DD said Reese Diesterhaft told him that he was only going to be staying for a couple of days and then was heading back to Sioux Falls. DD said Reese Diesterhaft was only at his home for about an hour and a half in total. DD said Reese Diesterhaft was offered a place to stay for the night but declined.
Interview of KD
Detective Pieper reports that he interviewed KD on August 14, 2018. KD is the mother of Reese Diesterhaft and lives in South Dakota. KD went over details of Reese Diesterhaft’s upbringing and current status. KD said that about a month after Reese Diesterhaft got out of prison, he told her over the phone that he had been on a bridge the night before and had contemplated jumping off and committing suicide. KD said she advised Reese Diesterhaft to see a counselor.
Interview of Reese Diesterhaft
Detective Pieper reports that he and Menomonie Police Sergeant Chad Mroczenski interviewed Reese Diesterhaft on August 7, 2018 at Mayo Hospital as part of the investigation. Prior to the interview, Diesterhaft was read his Miranda rights and he agreed to speak with law enforcement. Diesterhaft said that he was “on the run from South Dakota.” Diesterhaft said he wanted to visit his family and was thinking about going to his dad’s house, grabbing one of his guns and shooting himself. Diesterhaft said that instead, he did “something stupid to get the cops called on me” and that he started running and went for a little bit. Diesterhaft said that he “just wanted to die.” Diesterhaft said he didn’t want to “sit in prison for the rest of my life.” In describing the incident, Diesterhaft said “I figured if I held the gun up … to the cops that they would shoot me in the head.” Diesterhaft said that he did not shoot at the cops and estimated that he was shot at three or four times.
Diesterhaft detailed that he originally got the cops called on him for coming on to a girl. Diesterhaft said this was a random girl and that he tried to kiss her. Diesterhaft said the girl told him no and told him to leave. Diesterhaft said he later put gas in his vehicle in Caryville and gave the cops “some bullshit story” and ended up driving off. Diesterhaft confirmed he later purposefully drove by the cops, then backed up in his vehicle for about a half mile. Diesterhaft said he then saw another cop car coming. Diesterhaft said he then did the “dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life” by getting out of the vehicle and raising the gun at law enforcement. Diesterhaft stated that he wished that law enforcement would have shot him in the head.
Later in the interview, Diesterhaft went on to detail where he got the gun that he used in the incident. Diesterhaft said his reason for taking the gun was that he was thinking about shooting himself but couldn’t do it. Diesterhaft said that doing so would have been quicker and a lot less painful. Diesterhaft confirmed that he had recently used marijuana and methamphetamine. Diesterhaft said he had used methamphetamine each Tuesday for the previous three weeks.
Diesterhaft again confirmed that his intention was for the police to shoot him and did so by getting out of his vehicle and pointed the gun at law enforcement. Diesterhaft said he didn’t have any gas money to get back to South Dakota “so I figured might as well end it here cause what else am I supposed to do.” Diesterhaft expressed that he was sorry for what he had done to the deputies.
Follow up from Interview with Reese Diesterhaft
During the interview of Reese Diesterhaft, he confessed to committing at least one burglary and one attempted burglary. Law enforcement followed up on this information and determined the exact location where the firearm was stolen. The owner of the residence was contacted and confirmed that he was missing a .22 caliber rifle from the basement. The owner confirmed the no one had permission to enter the home or take any items from the home. Law enforcement also recovered a crowbar that was used in an attempted burglary. The crowbar was found in the exact location described by Diesterhaft.
Use of Force Justification
After a review of the investigation performed by the City of Eau Claire Police Department, I have concluded that Deputy James Haworth and Deputy Dan Eaton were justified in their use of force actions against Reese Diesterhaft on August 7, 2018. The analysis of this decision includes, but is not limited to, the following information:
1. Reese Diesterhaft had two warrants out for his arrest on August 7, 2018. One warrant was from Dunn County. The other warrant was from the State of South Dakota.
2. Reese Diesterhaft undertook multiple efforts on August 7, 2018 to gain the attention of law enforcement. Upon so doing, he engaged in multiple attempts to flee law enforcement.
3. While fleeing law enforcement pursuit, Reese Diesterhaft displayed a weapon toward law enforcement.
4. Reese Diesterhaft was temporarily successful at eluding law enforcement, but sought out contact with law enforcement a second time on August 7, 2018.
5. Reese Diesterhaft engaged in odd behavior, including but not limited to: flashing an LED light bar at law enforcement; backing up away from law enforcement; parking his truck in the roadway and exiting he vehicle with a rifle; and walking toward law enforcement while pointing the rifle at law enforcement.
6. Reese Diesterhaft disobeyed verbal commands when confronted.
7. When interviewed, Reese Diesterhaft admitted that he wanted law enforcement to shoot him and that he undertook actions to achieve that result.
8. Reese Diesterhaft admitted that he wanted to get shot rather than go back to prison in South Dakota.
9. Reese Diesterhaft admitted that he had used methamphetamine multiple times in the days/weeks prior to the incident.
10. Reese Diesterhaft admitted that he stole the rifle that he used during the incident.
11. Law enforcement follow up investigation confirmed Diesterhaft’s account of stealing the firearm and other criminal activity, including burglary.
12. Law enforcement involved in the incident provided a consistent account of events that resulted in the shooting of Reese Diesterhaft. Other evidence, including, but not limited to video and photographs support those accounts.
13. The totality of the conduct displayed by Reese Diesterhaft toward law enforcement on August 7, 2018 rightly caused law enforcement to fear for their lives.
I would like to thank Detective Sergeant Pieper and the City of Eau Claire Police Department for performing the investigation into the incident that took place on August 7, 2018. The materials submitted as a result of the investigation provide a transparent account of the incident on August 7, 2018, as well as the events that preceded the incident. This totality of the circumstances supports the use of force by Deputy James Haworth and Deputy Dan Eaton on August 7, 2018.
Thank you for your time and consideration of this information.
Eau Claire County