Willmar Officers Justified in Shooting/Suspect Facing Charges 13 Mar 18

(KWLM/Willmar, MN)  The Kandiyohi County Attorney’s Office has determined the shooting of a Willmar man in his backyard by two Willmar Police Officers last summer was justified, and the man who was shot now faces criminal charges.  

KWLM reports 46-year-old Matthew Smith will be arraigned in Kandiyohi County District Court today (Tuesday) on two charges of 2nd-Degree Assault-Fear and a count of Threats of Violence. 

On July 23rd last year, Willmar Police Officers Anthony Haycraft and Marco Vazquez were dispatched to Smith’s northwest side house on the report of a suicidal and intoxicated man with a gun.  

Smith’s wife said he had been depressed and had been drinking beer.  When the officers arrived, they found Smith sitting in a lawn chair, and he reportedly pointed a small handgun at both officers.   A police squad car camera recorded the officers telling Smith to drop the gun before Haycraft shot him once and Vazquez shot him twice.  

Smith was arrested and given first aid, then taken to the hospital where he has recovered.  

Blood tests showed Smith’s blood alcohol level at .279, and there were no traces of alcohol or drugs in either of the officers’ blood.  

In the criminal complaint, both officers said they feared for their lives before shooting Smith, and Kandiyohi County Attorney Shane Baker says he believes the use of deadly force was justified and the officers will not face any charges.  

Haycraft and Vazquez were briefly placed on paid administrative leave right after the shooting while the BCA conducted the investigation, and then were returned to active duty.