Fargo officers who fatally shot Mapleton man during mental health crisis did not violate policy, chief says

Fargo officers who fatally shot Mapleton man during mental health crisis did not violate policy, chief says

FARGO — Four Fargo police officers did not violate agency policy when they fatally shot a Mapleton man during a mental health crisis, according to Fargo Police Chief David Zibolski.

Zibolski confirmed that an internal investigation cleared Sgt. Travis Moser, Detective Josh Heller, Detective Ryan Jasper and Investigator Jordan Korte of wrongdoing in the Aug. 1 death of Andrew Martinez, 35, city spokeswoman Katie Ettish said. All four have returned to active duty, according to city officials.

The chief plans to discuss the findings of this investigation at the Police Advisory and Oversight Board meeting on Thursday, October 27.

Andre Martinez

Photo submitted by the Martinez family

“Chief Zibolski will be responding to questions related to this during this time,” Ettish said in an email to the Forum. Requests made Tuesday for an interview with Zibolski and a copy of the report detailing the findings of the internal investigation have not been met at the time of publication.

The announcement comes nearly two months after the four officers fired more than 20 rounds from AR-15 rifles at Martinez in his home.

North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley determined the four officers were justified in shooting Martinez because the man pointed an AR-15 rifle at police. Martinez was white and Hispanic. The four officers are white.

The Cass County Sheriff’s Office first responded around 10:30 a.m. Aug. 1 in Mapleton, a town about 10 miles west of Fargo, to a report of gunshots. Neighbors said Martinez appeared intoxicated and had a handgun, authorities said.

Video released at a press conference in mid-September showed MPs responding as two more shots were fired. Sheriff Jesse Jahner established a perimeter around Martinez’s home as he asked other agencies to help each other.

Jahner did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The Fargo and West Fargo Police Departments responded as a negotiator with the sheriff’s office tried to convince Martinez to come out peacefully, Jahner said. In what were described as “top-down” talks, the sheriff said Martinez would speak with law enforcement at times and then become agitated by the situation.

Police discovered Martinez was a suspect in criminal activity that contributed to his mental health crisis, they said. Jahner said Marsy’s law prevents him from discussing the details of this criminal activity.

After an hour-long standoff, Martinez told law enforcement he was going out with a gun, Jahner said. The negotiator repeatedly told Martinez to come out of the house unarmed.

Officers heard a gun-like sound before Martinez appeared behind a glass door with a rifle pointed in the air, Wrigley told reporters. Martinez then lowered his gun and pointed it at officers, Jahner said.

The video shows a long object coming out of the door.

It was then that the police opened fire. Martinez died at the scene.

Moser, Heller, Jasper, and Korte are part of the Metro Area Street Crimes Unit. The unit typically investigates gang-related crimes, pursues fugitives, and assists local agencies in investigating serious or recurring criminal incidents.

Martinez had not committed a criminal offense since 2009, when he was arrested for driving under the influence. The Metro Area Street Crimes Unit was on hand to respond to the incident when the sheriff’s office called for backup, Jahner said.

Martinez battled depression, his family said in a statement that called on law enforcement to reevaluate how they respond to a mental health crisis. The family said they were saddened that Wrigley decided the officers were justified in the shooting.

“We acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made to peacefully resolve the terrible situation that day, but knowing that Andrew was in crisis and not in his right mind, we wish more had been done to prevent this tragic outcome,” said the family in the statement. “It’s hard for us to understand how a cry for help to save her life during one of her lowest moments ultimately ended her life.”

Family attorney Tim O’Keeffe did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the story.

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