District attorney: Oshkosh officer’s use of force shooting driver was justified

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 2:04 PM CDT|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 2:15 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - An Oshkosh police officer was justified to use deadly force when she shot at a driver barreling towards her on Main Street back in March.

The suspect was shot and wounded and crashed into a concrete light pole but survived.

Back in mid-March, police were investigating a woman’s report that a man hit her and stole her purse, her money and her car. The suspected thief was recently released from prison and was already wanted on a probation warrant.

They found the car unoccupied and staked it out. When the suspect returned to the car, police parked their squad car behind it and officers approached the driver. The driver put the car in reverse, hitting the squad car and narrowly missed hitting one of the officers. The driver then charged forward.

The district attorney’s report says, “Within seconds, the second officer was directly in front of the vehicle with no area of cover or other escape routes they could have maneuvered to.”

She fired two shots with her service weapon, hitting the suspect once. The car crashed into a light pole and a parked car.

Officers pulled the driver out and started first aid until paramedics arrived.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice handled the investigation. The Division of Criminal Investigation presented its findings to the district attorney’s office.

“The suspect presented a significant risk to the life and safety of the officer at the time of the shooting, and [the] evidence was clear that the suspect drove the car towards the officer. This act reasonably put the officer in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm, and her use of force was justified.”

The officer was not identified. The D.A.’s office cited victim rights obligations in withholding her name for now.

The district attorney’s office is still considering criminal charges against the driver, who will be publicly identified if charges are filed.

He’s currently jailed in Milwaukee, where he’s awaiting a parole violation hearing.