WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- The Department of Justice has identified six officers from the Wausau Police Department and Marathon County Sheriff's Office from last week's fatal officer-involved shooting that ended in the death of 35-year-old Jack Bolinger.
First responders and law enforcement on scene of an officer-involved shooting in Wausau, Jan. 16, 2020 (WSAW Photo)
The involved officers from the WPD include Shawn Pierschalla, Benjamin Price, and Michael Horejs, while involved deputies from MCSO include Lt. Steven Denovi, James Toth, and Brandon Stroik. All involved law enforcement have been placed on administrative leave, per department policy.
Deputy Stroik was cleared in a 2017 fatal shooting in Rib Mountain that resulted in the death of 33-year-old John Hall.
The shooting occurred in the area of Artic Lane and North 12th Avenue, following a report of a subject attempting to steal vehicles. He was confronted by law enforcement, and during the confrontation allegedly fired on law enforcement and a "citizen-occupied vehicle". Law enforcement fired on the suspect, who fell on the ground wounded but remained armed. After a standoff lasting several minutes law enforcement fired on the suspect, who died at the scene.
At a press conference on January 17, Wausau police chief Ben Bliven addressed the details of what happened in the exchange of gunfire, including bystander footage that has circulated on social media. Bliven has also answered questions on social media regarding why no body or dash cam footage has been released.
A video of the apparent shooting captured by a bystander reached almost 2,000 shares on Facebook. NewsChannel 7 has not aired the full unedited video due to its graphic nature. In it, a person is seen lying on the ground a distance away from several members of law enforcement with weapons drawn. The person is seen moving and something is raised in the air before a series of gunshots can be heard in the video.
Bliven noted that the video in question recorded a small period of time of what had been a fifteen-minute encounter between the suspect and law enforcement, during which the suspect pointed his firearm at officers and shot multiple times.
Officers spent several minutes both "pleading with and commanding" the suspect to drop his firearm once he was wounded on the ground, Bliven said, so that they could provide medical assistance.
"The subject would not respond to officers and would not drop the firearm, but continued movement," he said.
Bliven said one video that displayed the subject being shot while lying on the ground appeared to have started about ten minutes into the encounter from the point of initial contact and exchange of gunfire, and that he had personally viewed multiple angles and audio versions from various body and dash cams.
"I know there are people that have questions about their incident. I respect your perspective and your concern. I want to express to you, our community, that we are committed to excellence in policing," Bliven said. "That trust is vital so that in moments like these we can stand before you and ask that you trust that we will do everything possible to ensure an impartial and objective investigation into this incident."
"I am also asking our community to reserve judgement until they can review the additional video footage and learn more about this investigation," Bliven noted.
The WPPA has issued a statement saying that preliminary evidence leads them to be confident that the officers involved were justified in the shooting.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation, assisted by the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, Wisconsin State Patrol, the Marathon County Medical Examiner, and the DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services.