BCA: Willmar man, 75, dies after being shocked with a Taser during an attempted eviction

Person talks at podium09
Kandiyohi County Sheriff Eric Tollefson speaks at Unity Christian Reformed Church in Prinsburg.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News 2023

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said a 75-year-old man died after a deputy “shocked him with a Taser,” according to a statement released Wednesday.

The BCA said two Kandiyohi County sheriff’s deputies and two Willmar police officers went to Michael James Yanacheak’s apartment on Monday to perform a court-ordered eviction. When Yanacheak did not respond to demands to open the door, an apartment manager forced the door open.

Officers say Yanacheak walked toward them with a kitchen knife and sheriff’s deputy Riley Kampsen deployed his Taser. The officers provided medical care, but Yanacheak died later at the hospital.

“At no time did anyone involved in this incident discharge a firearm,” the BCA said in the statement.

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State investigators noted the cause of death is “undetermined pending further investigation by the medical examiner.”

A knife was recovered from the apartment. Deputy Kampsen and the Willmar police officers were wearing body cameras and investigators are reviewing “all available” video.

The BCA is investigating and will send findings without a recommendation on charges to the Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office.

A funeral notice for Yanacheak said he will be buried in a private ceremony at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

Court records show that eviction proceedings against Yanacheak were started in December. The complaint filed by Yanacheak’s landlords indicated he had occupied the apartment on Fifth Street Southwest since at least 2010 and said they gave Yanacheak a “non-renewal of tenant lease notice” in September.

He didn’t vacate the apartment and didn’t pay rent for November or December, the complaint said. Yanacheak did not appear for two court hearings in January, after which a judge granted the eviction.