BISMARCK — The North Dakota Highway Patrol on Wednesday, Sept. 15, released the name of the trooper who fatally shot a man from Billings, Montana, this month.

Trooper Steven Mayer shot and killed 45-year-old Craig Knutson on the evening of Sept. 7 after a vehicle pursuit about 13 miles west of Mandan on Interstate 94.

Mayer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation into the shooting and a review by the Morton County State's Attorney's Office, which is standard procedure, said Sgt. Wade Kadrmas, safety and education officer with the patrol.

Mayer is part of the patrol's K9 program and serves northwest and southwest North Dakota, according to the patrol's website.

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Mayer is certified in mantrailing, or using canines to track people, according to the International Bloodhound Training Institute. He's also an active shooter instructor and SWAT certified.

Mayer has been a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper since 2005, according to the International Bloodhound Training Institute. Previously, he was a sergeant with the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and worked at the state penitentiary.

Mayer has no disciplinary history, Kadrmas said.


MANDAN, N.D. — A North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper shot and killed a man from Billings, Montana, on Tuesday evening, Sept. 7 — the patrol's first fatal shooting since 2010.

At a news conference Wednesday, North Dakota Highway Patrol officials and Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier declined to say whether they believe the shooting was justified, adding that they would wait until an investigation was complete to reach a conclusion.

Authorities identified the man killed as 45-year-old Craig Knutson.

At about 7:43 p.m. Tuesday, the trooper and three Morton County sheriff's deputies were pursuing a vehicle about 13 miles west of Mandan on Interstate 94 in response to a reckless driver call, said Tom Iverson, the patrol's chief of operations.

Knutson's "van-style" vehicle did not stop after officers attempted a traffic stop and it continued to travel at about 75 mph on the interstate. A Morton County deputy deflated the vehicle's front left tire using spike stripes, Iverson said.

Knutson's vehicle continued to travel east and officers used a "pit maneuver," causing the vehicle to spin sideways and come to a stop.

When the pursuit ended, the trooper got out of his vehicle and gave Knutson verbal commands to put his hands in the air, Iverson said, and the trooper told other officers that Knutson had a gun.

The trooper fired one shot from his gun, killing Knutson on scene at about 8:18 p.m.

The patrol said it did not know at this time whether Knutson was pointing a gun at officers. Iverson said a revolver was recovered from Knutson's vehicle.

No officers were wearing body cameras, though squad car cameras were activated, Kirchmeier said. Authorities have not released any video of the shooting.

At this time, authorities do not know why Knutson was in North Dakota or why he did not stop his vehicle, Kirchmeier said.

The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting. The trooper has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation, which the patrol said is standard procedure.

"North Dakota Highway Patrol troopers train extensively for high-risk incidents," the patrol said in a statement. "We value each individual and understand that the loss of life is a tragic event."

Iverson said the last fatal shooting involving a North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper was in 2010 in western North Dakota.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at