Norman County deputy justified in shooting at suspect, review says
ADA, Minn. -- A Norman County deputy shot during a traffic stop last month was justified in firing at the suspect, according to the Minnesota county attorney reviewing the case.
Norman County Deputy Nathan Warner returned fire after being shot April 15 near Perley in northwest Minnesota.
Warner was shot in the back in his bullet-resistant vest, and another round struck his portable radio on the front of his vest. Warner returned fire but missed, the criminal complaint said.
Warner was treated at a Fargo hospital and released.
“It is my opinion Deputy Warner was justified in the use of deadly force under the facts and circumstances in this case,” Mahnomen County Attorney Darlene Rivera Spalla wrote in a letter to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. “I see no violation of the deadly force statue by the deputy.”
The suspect, Steven Henderson, 19, faces four felony counts related to the traffic stop, including charges of first-degree attempted murder of a peace officer, bringing stolen goods into the state and two counts of receiving stolen property. He has pleaded not guilty.
According to the criminal complaint, Henderson and his brother had just traveled from Oklahoma to Minnesota when they were pulled over April 15 in a pickup that Henderson had stolen the day before in Kansas or Nebraska. He had found a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun inside the glove compartment.
The Norman County Sheriff’s Office received a report from someone saying the pickup was suspicious. The deputy found the truck, which had no license plates, and stopped it on County Road 39 near County Road 12. Henderson was driving, and his brother, William Henderson, was in the passenger seat, the complaint states.
At the time, William Henderson, 18, had an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court on misdemeanor charges in Pennington County, so Warner placed him in the back seat of his squad car, according to the complaint.
The deputy returned to the pickup and then headed back to his squad car. At that point, Steven Henderson opened fire with the handgun, the complaint states.
Steven Henderson drove off and officers found him two hours later in woods near a vacant farmstead a few miles from the shooting scene.
Steven Henderson is set for a pretrial hearing June 11. A trial is scheduled for Sept. 2.