Jamie J. Lewis wrote a suicide note before leaving his Burnsville apartment with a loaded .45 caliber handgun in September.
He was a felon and told his ex-girlfriend if he got caught with a gun he would “go down fighting.” Burnsville officer Brett Levin and Sgt. Steven Stoler were radioed this information as they approached Lewis’ apartment complex.
A state trooper helicopter spotted Lewis nearby about 9:30 p.m., and Levin slowly drove his squad about 30 to 40 yards away. Through the scopes on their rifles, both officers could see his gray handgun.
At this point, Levin told himself, “This is for real. He’s going to kill me.” Lewis, who was lying down, pointed the gun at his head before aiming it toward the officers. Stoler then shot him dead.
Nearly 500 pages of documents, and audio and video from the shooting, were released Wednesday by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which investigated the Sept. 26 shooting.
Last month, Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom ruled that Stoler’s use of deadly force was justified.
“Here, Sergeant Stoler subjectively believed that Lewis posed a deadly threat to himself, his fellow officers, and persons at an adjacent apartment complex and traveling on Cliff Road,” Backstrom said in a statement.
Lewis, 48, was shot multiple times, according the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office. He died near where he lived at the Dahcotah View Apartments on E. Cliff Road.
Backstrom said the shooting was justified for several reasons:
• There was a handgun in his hands.
• Cliff Road was behind the officers and had not been blocked off, creating a reasonable possibility that a stray bullet from Lewis’ handgun could strike a passing vehicle.
• Levin and Stoler had made their presence known by repeatedly yelling to Lewis that they were police, to show them his hands and to drop the gun; Lewis did not comply with their commands.
According to documents, he incident began about 8:30 p.m. when Burnsville dispatch received a 911 call from Lewis’ ex-girlfriend. She said he was suicidal, that they had recently broken up and that he quit his job.
He had been planning to kill himself for days and had been drinking, she said. He also had severe depression.
Levin and Stoler knew this information as they headed separately to the apartment. After the State Patrol helicopter spotted a “heat source,” Levin went to the area and was the first come in contact with Lewis, who was lying on the ground.
“I believed he was not only suicidal, but homicidal,” Levin told investigators after the shooting. “I thought he going to ‘suicide by cop.’ ”
The BCA provided video shot from the helicopter and from Levin and Stoler’s body cameras. It showed the officers approaching slowly and methodically. Stoler told investigators he feared being ambushed by Lewis.
Stoler said Lewis pointed the gun at the officers.
“It looked like I was looking down the barrel of a gun,” he told investigators.
Lewis tried to crawl away after he was shot. He died at the scene.
Levin had started with the department only five months before the shooting. Stoler has 13 years’ experience and was named the department’s officer of the year in 2005.