A Hastings police officer acted properly when he fatally shot a 23-year-old stabbing suspect in the head as the man raced toward him clutching a sharp object and yelling "shoot me," the Dakota County Attorney's Office ruled Wednesday.
Officer Geoffrey Latsch, who fired his handgun three times, "was legally justified in using deadly force … to protect himself from death or great bodily harm," County Attorney James Backstrom wrote in connection with the Oct. 1 shooting of Keagan Johnson-Lloyd on Walnut Street.
Latsch believed he had seen a metallic object, possibly a knife, in Johnson-Lloyd's hand as man closed to within 10 feet of the officer and shouted "[unintelligible] shoot me," Backstrom wrote.
A police sergeant checking for a pulse saw a razor blade in Johnson-Lloyd's hand, according to a police summary of the sergeant's official statement.
Earlier that day, police were called to the area on a report that Johnson-Lloyd had used a kitchen knife to stab and slightly wound a fellow resident at the Spirit Recovery Center chemical dependency group home. Johnson-Lloyd stabbed the man after being confronted over some missing cigarettes, according to police records.
In his statement to police, the center's manager said he was driving to the facility in response to the stabbing, saw Johnson-Lloyd and called 911.
The manager asked Johnson-Lloyd what he was doing, and he replied "just waiting for the cops" and "gonna go out with a bang," according to a summary of the statement. Police gunfire soon followed.
In a statement, Backstrom said that "although I have concluded that the use of deadly force by this police officer was legally justified in this instance, any loss of life is a tragic occurrence. … Unfortunately, there are times when officers are placed in a situation where they must use deadly force to protect themselves and the public."
In a police summary of Latsch's statement, Latsch said the encounter unfolded within a matter of seconds, and he said he had no other choice but to shoot Johnson-Lloyd.
Backstrom said Latsch's account of the confrontation "is consistent with the statements of witnesses and video obtained from his body camera that was activated at the time of the incident."
A report by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner revealed that Johnson-Lloyd had methamphetamine and amphetamine in his system.
Messages were left with Johnson-Lloyd's mother, Tanya Johnson, and another family member for reaction to Backstrom's decision.
In March, Johnson-Lloyd was arrested in Rochester on suspicion of attacking an older family member with a hammer.
His criminal history in Minnesota also includes three convictions for assault, three for burglary, two for theft and one each for terroristic threats and false imprisonment.
Johnson-Lloyd's online obituary noted that he was an avid reader who "wanted to write his own book on helping others through addiction and depression."