Crime, Law and Justice

Wright County attorney: Deputy was justified in fatal shooting of pipe-wielding man

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Wright County Deputy Austin Feenstra shot 67-year-old Jeffrey Chapman during a traffic stop in St. Michael in March.

The Wright County attorney has decided a deputy was justified in fatally shooting a man during a traffic stop in March in St. Michael.

According to an investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Wright County Sheriff’s Deputy Austin Feenstra tried to pull over 67-year-old Jeffrey Chapman early morning March 2, allegedly for driving erratically.

The BCA said Chapman drove about two blocks, stopped his car, got out and walked toward Feenstra, holding what the deputy believed was a knife. It turned out to be a nine-inch metal rod. Feenstra fired his handgun, and Chapman died at the scene of multiple gunshot wounds.

Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes reviewed the BCA’s investigation, and determined Feenstra was justified in shooting Chapman.

In a statement, Lutes said Chapman’s behavior “placed Deputy Feenstra in a position where he had no choice other than using deadly force.” Chapman was within five feet of Feenstra, “lunging towards him with a weapon intending to stab him,” Lutes stated.

Absent the use of deadly force, Feenstra was “in immediate risk of being killed or greatly harmed” by Chapman, who was “about to stab him with an object Deputy Feenstra reasonably believed to be a knife,” Lutes stated. No criminal charges will be filed in the case.

Wright County sheriff’s deputies do not wear body cameras. The BCA did review squad camera footage of the incident.