ST. PAUL -- A Washington County sheriff’s deputy who fatally shot an armed suicidal man in Lake Elmo in 2018 was acquitted Thursday, March 19, of second-degree manslaughter.
After deliberating for about four hours Wednesday evening and about two hours on Thursday morning, the Washington County jury reached its verdict about 11 a.m. in the trial of Washington County Deputy Brian Krook.
Krook killed Benjamin Evans, a 23-year-old emergency medical technician and probationary firefighter who was distraught over a breakup, on April 12, 2018. The shooting happened after a standoff in which Evans knelt in a Lake Elmo intersection for about 40 minutes with a gun to his head.
Kevin Short, one of Krook’s attorneys, said the jury, which consisted of eight women and seven men, made the right call.
“I don’t think it was a difficult decision for them, but we’re extremely grateful that they gave the case as careful attention as they did,” Short said. “We’re grateful and appreciative and thankful that they arrived at the verdict that says what we have said since the beginning — that Brian Krook was completely innocent. He did what he had to do.”
Bill Evans and Kim Porter, the parents of Ben Evans, said that they were “devastated” by the jury’s verdict.
“Devastation doesn’t even begin to describe what we’re feeling,” said Porter, who lives near St. Louis, Mo.
Evans and Porter said their son was a dedicated public servant — a firefighter and an EMT — and that he left behind a 3-year-old daughter, Lydia Rose, “who will never know him.”
Krook, 32, of Somerset Township, Wis., testified earlier this week that the shooting was justified because his and his colleagues’ lives were in danger. Evans ignored more than 50 police commands to drop his gun, according to video shown in court of the 39-minute encounter.
Prosecutors said Krook ignored the law and his training when he shot Evans.
The case was heard by Sherburne County District Judge Mary Yunker and handled by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office to avoid a conflict of interest.