Fargo officers who fatally shot Mapleton man during mental health crisis didn't violate policy, chief says
Fargo Police Chief Zibolski will discuss the internal investigation in the Andrew Martinez shooting on Thursday.
Zibolski confirmed an internal investigation cleared Sgt. Travis Moser, Detective Josh Heller, Detective Ryan Jasper and Investigator Jordan Korte of wrongdoing in connection to the Aug. 1 death of 35-year-old Andrew Martinez, city spokeswoman Katie Ettish said. The four have returned to active duty, according to city officials.
The chief plans to discuss the findings of that investigation at the Thursday, Oct. 27, Police Advisory and Oversight Board meeting.
“Chief Zibolski will answer questions related to this during that time,” Ettish said in an email to The Forum. Requests made Tuesday for an interview with Zibolski and a copy of the report detailing the findings of the internal probe were not fulfilled by publishing time.
The announcement comes almost two months after the four officers fired more than 20 rounds from AR-15 rifles at Martinez in his house.
North Dakota Attorney General Drew Wrigley determined the four officers were justified in shooting Martinez because the man pointed an AR-15 rifle at police. Martinez was white and Hispanic. The four officers are white.
The Cass County Sheriff’s Office initially responded around 10:30 a.m. Aug. 1 to Mapleton, a town about 10 miles west of Fargo, for a report of shots fired. Neighbors said Martinez appeared to be intoxicated and had a handgun, according to authorities.
Video played during a mid-September press conference showed deputies responding as two more shots were fired. Sheriff Jesse Jahner set up a perimeter around Martinez’s house as he asked for other agencies to offer mutual aid.
Jahner did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The Fargo and West Fargo police departments responded as a negotiator with the sheriff’s office tried to convince Martinez to come outside peacefully, Jahner said. In what were described as “up and down” talks, the sheriff said Martinez would, at times, speak with law enforcement then become agitated with the situation.
Police discovered Martinez was a suspect in criminal activity that contributed to his mental health crisis, they said. Jahner said Marsy’s Law bars him from discussing the details of that criminal activity.
After an hourslong standoff, Martinez told law enforcement he was coming out with a gun, Jahner said. The negotiator repeatedly told Martinez to come out of the house unarmed.
Officers heard a sound similar to a gun being racked before Martinez appeared behind a glass door with a rifle pointed in the air, Wrigley told reporters. Martinez then lowered his gun and pointed it at officers, Jahner said.
Video shows a long object coming out the door.
That’s when law enforcement opened fire. Martinez died at the scene.
Moser, Heller, Jasper and Korte are part of the metro area street crimes unit. The unit typically investigates gang-related crimes, goes after fugitives and helps local agencies investigate serious or recurring criminal incidents.
Martinez hadn’t committed a criminal offense since 2009, when he was arrested for driving under the influence. The metro area street crimes unit was available to respond to the incident when the sheriff’s office called for backup, Jahner said.
Martinez fought depression, his family said in a statement that called on law enforcement to reevaluate how it responds to a mental health crisis. The family said it was saddened that Wrigley decided the officers were justified in the shooting.
“We recognize and appreciate the effort made to peacefully resolve the terrible situation that day, but knowing that Andrew was in crisis and not in his right mind, we wish that more would have been done to prevent this tragic outcome,” the family said in the statement. “It’s hard for us to understand how a call for help to save his life during one of his lowest moments ultimately ended his life.”
The family’s attorney, Tim O’Keeffe, did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.