Video shows encounter before Superior shooting
The Superior Police Department on Wednesday released body camera videos showing the lead-up to the shooting of a suspect in October.
The clips show the minutes before three officers shot 19-year-old Joshua Michael Farmer, who was suspected of stealing an alcoholic beverage from a Belknap Street business. The clips cut off immediately before the officers opened fire; the complete videos and full investigative file have yet to be released.
A prosecutor on Tuesday said the three officers — George Gothner, Michael Kendall and Christopher Woolery — were justified in using deadly force after Farmer threatened to kill them, ignored their commands and produced a wrench that he claimed was a gun on Oct. 5 in the city's Central Park neighborhood.
The clips, captured on the chest-mounted cameras of all three officers, show them pleading with Farmer to remove his hand from his pocket. He refuses, telling the officers he has a gun and that he’s going to shoot them.
“Either you’re going to die or I’m going to die,” Farmer is heard saying.
The abbreviated videos conclude with Farmer telling the officers, “Sorry I ruined your day,” tossing his beverage and quickly removing his hand from his pocket.
The entire incident, from the time the first officer arrives on scene until the moment Farmer is shot, takes only about 4 ½ minutes.
Authorities said Tuesday that Farmer later acknowledged that he sought to be killed by police that day. He was struck by six of the officers’ 31 shots and was treated at a Duluth hospital for non-life-threatening injuries to his face, left chest, right elbow, right thigh, left calf and both feet.
Douglas County District Attorney Mark Fruehauf charged Farmer with three felony counts of threatening a law enforcement officer with a dangerous weapon, as well as misdemeanor counts of obstructing an officer and retail theft. A warrant remained out for his arrest Wednesday.
The investigation was led by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation. Citing the ongoing criminal case against Farmer, spokeswoman Rebecca Ballweg said the agency was reviewing which records could be released in accordance with state pretrial publicity guidelines.
The three officers have all returned to work.