Charges will not be filed against a Coon Rapids police officer who shot and wounded an armed felon on the run who was suspected of having just shot another man, prosecutors announced Tuesday.
In an e-mail Monday to staff members explaining his determination following the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s investigation, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi listed several reasons to rule that officer Bryan Platz’s actions were justified during the 16-minute chase of 25-year-old Castle Ahlbeck on Nov. 17, 2016:
• Ahlbeck had just shot another person.
• The officer believed his and others’ lives were in danger.
• Ahlbeck was fleeing capture “in an aggressive manner.”
• If not stopped, Ahlbeck “would have further endangered others” pursuing him.
A summary by the county attorney of the events surrounding the 20-mile pursuit and shooting zeroed in on the dilemma the officer faced seconds before deciding to shoot Ahlbeck.
With Ahlbeck approaching a home in a backyard, and Platz roughly 25 yards away on the other side of the property’s fence, the officer had the option of risk being shot by holstering his gun and scaling the fence or “he could fire at Ahlbeck to stop him from entering the house,” the summary read.
When weighing what to do, the officer also realized that Ahlbeck appeared to turn and look at him and the chain-link fence offered little protection from gunfire and would make an obvious noise had he climbed onto it.
“For these reasons,” the summary continued, “Officer Platz’s belief that Mr. Ahlbeck would shoot at him if he re-holstered his gun in order to climb the fence was reasonable under the circumstances.”
Ahlbeck’s attorney did not immediately return calls Tuesday afternoon seeking comment.
Choi’s office handled the review of the officer’s actions to allow the Anoka County attorney’s office to avoid a potential conflict of interest.
Ahlbeck, of Brooklyn Park, was charged with shooting another man in the leg outside an East Bethel convenience store and then fleeing police at speeds of 120 miles per hour or more on a busy freeway until he crashed and was shot by law enforcement, according to the criminal complaint. He remains jailed, with a trial date of Oct. 2 scheduled.
The man who was shot in the leg told investigators that Ahlbeck shot him outside Cooper’s Corner gas station in the 23700 block of Hwy. 65, just after a drug deal.
A search of Ahlbeck’s vehicle after it crashed turned up suspected methamphetamine, according to the complaint, which charged him with first- and second-degree assault, fleeing police and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Ahlbeck was convicted of felony second-degree assault in September 2013.