DULUTH — A Duluth police officer has been charged with two felonies after shooting an unarmed man through a door in September.
Officer Tyler Leibfried, 28, was summoned to appear in State District Court on two charges involving the discharge of his firearm. Each count carries a maximum of two years in prison.
Leibfried, a five-year veteran, shot 23-year-old Jared Fyle at the Kingsley Heights Apartments in downtown Duluth after responding to a possible domestic assault call Sept. 12.
According to a criminal complaint, Leibfried reportedly heard a noise that he mistook as a gunshot, firing first four shots into Fyle's apartment, and then pausing approximately six seconds before firing two additional rounds. A fellow officer who was with him did not discharge his weapon.
No firearm was found in Fyle's apartment, and the complaint indicates that the noise may have been from the victim closing and locking the apartment door. Authorities said Fyle still has a bullet lodged in his back as a result of the shooting.
The case was investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, with reports turned over to St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin for review. Rubin said he made the charging decision in consultation with retired St. Louis County prosecutor Vern Swanum, who has often been called upon to review officer shooting cases.
"I reached the same conclusion as Mr. Swanum did," Rubin said in a statement. "Mainly, that Tyler Leibfried’s conduct fails the 'objective reasonable officer' standard and that it was not an objectively reasonable use of deadly force."
Fyle's attorney, Andrew Poole, said he and his client were "thankful" that prosecutors have "taken this step toward holding Officer Leibfried accountable for his criminal behavior." But he said they don't believe the "charged crimes adequately address the act of purposefully shooting at an unarmed person through a closed door.
"In a nation devastated by the deaths and injuries of so many unarmed citizens shot and injured or killed by excessive police force, today is a stark reminder that we in northern Minnesota are not spared from police misconduct or brutality," Poole said.
Leibfried remains on paid administrative leave, the Duluth Police Department confirmed in a statement.
"With the criminal charges today, the Duluth Police Department will have access to the full investigation for the first time," the statement read. "The Duluth Police Department is immediately commencing an administrative investigation and anticipate our findings in the next 7-10 days."
A first court appearance was not immediately scheduled for Leibfried.