WASECA, Minn. – The man who shot a Waseca police officer in the head in January and gravely injured him was given the maximum allowable sentence on Friday, but the county attorney expressed dismay that he can’t be imprisoned for longer.
Tyler Robert Janovsky, a 38-year-old Waseca man with an extensive criminal history who has spent the majority of his adult life behind bars, was sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of attempted first-degree murder involving a police officer.
Janovsky sat in a wheelchair, his wrists and ankles shackled, while the police officer he nearly killed, Arik Matson, was mere steps away, next to his wife in the front row.
Matson, 33, was shot in the head Jan. 6 while responding with other officers to a report of a prowler. He had multiple surgeries and spent the past several months in a Nebraska rehabilitation facility before returning home in October. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he hadn’t seen family members in person since February. The father of three young girls is continuing to receive therapy in Minnesota.
Matson’s wife, Megan, helped him walk haltingly to the podium to read a victim impact statement.
“I don’t recall the details of that night, but I do recall waking up in a hospital and being told I was shot at work,” Matson said. “I had so much stolen from me this year, from my daughter’s eighth birthday to celebrating Father’s Day and other special events. My wife and daughters lost out on so much this year as well.”
On Jan. 6, according to a court complaint, officers responded to a suspicious person call on 3rd Avenue in Waseca.
Officers surrounded a home and spotted Janovsky on a second-story porch. He ran across the rooftop and shot Matson. He also fired at two other officers, which led to three charges of attempted first-degree murder involving a police officer.
Janovsky pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in Waseca County District Court in July. In the plea deal, the third attempted murder charge, a gun charge and separate drug charges were dismissed.
At the time of the shooting, Janovsky was wanted on drug charges after drugs and materials for making methamphetamine allegedly were found in his Waseca home. According to court documents, he had told a family member he planned to commit “suicide by cop” shortly before he shot Matson.
While Janovsky expressed remorse at the sentencing for his actions — “I’m exactly where I need to be. I’m here to take my medicine and begin the next phase of my life,” he said — the county attorney as well as Waseca police officers in attendance described him as a career criminal who didn’t recognize the gravity of his actions.
Waseca Police Chief Penny Vought spoke of Janovsky, in a phone call from prison, describing the shooting as merely a “mistake.” She decried how he still signed off on e-mails with “Kiss the cook,” a reference to his cooking of methamphetamines.
“He still gets both pride and amusement out of his ability to cook methamphetamine,” she said. “I’ve been taught over a lifetime that we need to forgive people in order to move forward in life … I don’t think I will ever be able to forgive the defendant for the devastation he has caused Arik and his family. The deliberate actions of the defendant do not warrant forgiveness.”
After the sentencing, three deputies wheeled Janovsky, who suffered injuries the night he shot Matson, to a waiting SUV. Then the county attorney stood beside Matson outside the courthouse and lamented that the sentence couldn’t have been longer, given sentencing guidelines for attempted first-degree murder involving a police officer.
“While we are pleased that the defendant is going to prison for 35 years, we wish it could be more,” said Waseca County Attorney Rachel Cornelius. “The law doesn’t account for if the officer or officers are gravely injured. It doesn’t account for if they almost die, if they have to relearn how to eat, walk, talk, and possibly never return to work. We sincerely hope there will be changes to the law regarding this.”