Fatal river raft shooting was justified, investigation finds
(Le Center, MN) – An investigation found that four officers involved in the shooting death of a man on the Minnesota River were justified.
Le Sueur County Sheriff Brett Mason announced the officers involved in the fatal shooting wouldn’t face criminal charges for the incident.
Mason’s release says Le Sueur County Attorney Brent Christian determined that the four officers that discharged their weapons were “justified and authorized” after an extensive review of the case.
The man fatally shot by police in April was Austin Dean Heights. Heights had robbed a convenience store at gunpoint, according to police reports. He fled to Kiwanis Park, where Mankato Police officers found him on a raft with two long guns.
On the river, Heights fired on a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officer and a Blue Earth County deputy when they ordered him to show his hands, reports say.
Heights eventually floated to shore in Le Sueur County, where police say he began to get out of the raft with his guns. Police describe the area as heavily wooded with nearby residences.
“Given Heights’ criminal behavior, failure to respond to commands from law enforcement, and the multiple rounds fire upon law enforcement, deadly force was necessary to protect other law enforcement officers and civilians from great bodily harm or death,” says Mason’s release.