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Officers deemed justified in fatal Iron Range shooting

Jeffrey John Golnick1 / 2
Law enforcement officers investigate the scene of a shooting in the alley between Michigan and Indiana Ave. West in Gilbert, Minn., on Dec. 22, 2017. Clint Austin / Forum News Service2 / 2

DULUTH—St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin announced Wednesday, Jan. 24, that Deputy Derrick Deutsch and Gilbert, Minn., Police Officer Joseph Bradach were justified in using deadly force against 40-year-old Jeffrey John Golnick of Chaska, Minn., in a Dec. 22 incident in Gilbert.

Rubin said Golnick pointed a handgun at Deutsch, who had fallen to the ground, before the deputy and Bradach fired a volley of shots of that killed Golnick last month.

"I have concluded that the actions of the law enforcement officers were authorized, justified and necessary," Rubin said in a statement. "Their actions probably saved not only their own lives, but possibly also the lives of other citizens."

Deutsch and Bradach were attempting to arrest a different person on a warrant when they encountered Golnick, who attempted to flee down an alley, according to a memorandum released by Rubin.

At one point, after Deutsch slipped in snow, Golnick pointed the weapon in his direction, prompting the deputy to fire three shots and knock the suspect down. Deutsch also was struck by a shot fired "almost simultaneously" by Golnick, resulting in minor injuries, according to the report.

The officers reported that the wounded Golnick then leaned up and once again pointed the weapon in their direction, prompting both to open fire. Golnick once again fell to the ground, where he was pronounced dead, according to the report.

Golnick had been listed as a wanted fugitive by the Minnesota Department of Corrections a month earlier. He was released from prison in April 2016 after receiving a 15-year sentence for firing shots at Virginia police officers during a standoff in 2005.

Deutsch has worked for the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office for one year and previously was with the Kanabec County Sheriff's Office for two years. Bradach is a six-year veteran of the Gilbert Police Department.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated the case and turned its reports over to the St. Louis County Attorney's Office on Jan. 10. The case was reviewed by Rubin and Assistant County Attorney Rebekka Stumme.

Investigators found approximately one ounce of methamphetamine on Golnick's person, and toxicology reports indicated he had a "significant" amount of the drug in his system.

It was determined that the firearm was owned by Golnick's estranged girlfriend, who reported that it was one of three guns missing from her Chaska home.

A witness who was inside the residence also told investigators that Golnick "had some animosity about his long incarceration and directed it toward law enforcement, particularly a deputy sheriff."

"There is no question that on two occasions, Jeffrey Golnick constituted a direct and immediate threat to the life and safety of first Deputy Deutsch and then also Officer Bradach," Rubin wrote. "Further, Golnick was a threat to the safety of the public in general."