Sergeant ID'd in St. Paul Officer-Involved Shooting, Suspect Charged

Updated: 11/19/2013 11:41 AM By: Cassie Hart

DeShawn Nelson
DeShawn Nelson
Photo: Photo courtesy of the Pioneer Press

St. Paul Police have identified the sergeant who shot a suspect Sunday morning during a chase in the Merriam-Park neighborhood.

He has been identified as Sgt. Jeremy Ryan, a 15-year veteran with the police department.

The suspect, 21-year-old DeShawn Nelson, was in critical condition after he was shot three times by Sgt. Ryan, according to police. Nelson was charged Monday with second-degree assault by the Ramsey County Attorney's Office.

Police say the incident started when they were responding to a burglary call in the 1800 block of Dayton Avenue just after 4 a.m. Sgt. Ryan heard shots nearby. He tried to stop a suspicious vehicle, but the SUV took off, leading Sgt. Ryan on a chase.

According to police, the SUV slowed down and Nelson, who was a passenger, bailed out of it and ran away. Sgt. Ryan said he saw Nelson with a "big gun in his right hand," according to the criminal complaint. Sgt. Ryan said he watched the gun closely in case Nelson tried to throw it.

Sgt. Ryan followed Nelson into an alley in his squad car. Sgt. Ryan said Nelson pointed the handgun at him with his right hand. Sgt. Ryan said he thought Nelson was going to kill him because he was stuck in his squad car. Sgt. Ryan fired and hit Nelson. Sgt. Ryan said he knew he had hit Nelson because he flinched.

According to the complaint, Sgt. Ryan got out of his squad at one point and chased Nelson, who continued to run.

Nelson fell over a fence, then stood up and turned towards Sgt. Ryan. The complaint states he began to raise his handgun again and that's when Sgt. Ryan fired at and hit Nelson who “went down hard.” Sgt. Ryan yelled at Nelson to show his hands, but Nelson got up again.

Sgt. Ryan said he thought Nelson may have been wearing body armor because "being shot wasn’t affecting him."

Sgt. Ryan took cover by a house and yelled at Nelson. It was at that point Sgt. Ryan lost sight of Nelson's hands and gun, the complaint said. Nelson turned again and Sgt. Ryan, who believed Nelson was going to shoot him, shot Nelson a third time.

When Sgt. Ryan approached Nelson, who was in the street, he said Nelson's hands were empty. Sgt. Ryan radioed medical attention was needed. Medics arrived and took Nelson from the scene.

A gun was recovered from the area that did not belong to Sgt. Ryan, according to police.

According to the complaint, officers spoke to a neighbor, who heard sirens then gunfire. He grabbed his shotgun and went to his front porch. The man said he saw Sgt. Ryan with his gun drawn, standing over Nelson in the street.

The neighbor said he saw no one else in the area other than Sgt. Ryan and Nelson. Sgt. Ryan asked the man to watch his back until other officers arrived. Sgt. Ryan was afraid the SUV that Nelson bailed from may return. Once backup arrived the man went back inside his home, the complaint states.

Sgt. Ryan was treated for a knee injury he sustained during a foot chase. He has been put on administrative leave, which is standard.

The complaint states, Nelson said he took off from the passenger seat of the SUV because he thought he had warrants for not paying for his train fares in Minneapolis.

Nelson denied having a gun and said he had a phone in his hand when he left the SUV.

According to police, a bullet hit a home and grazed a St. Paul man inside at some point Sunday morning. He suffered minor injuries and declined medical treatment. "We don't know whether it came from the suspect or the officer's handgun," said St. Paul Sgt. Paul Paulos said Sunday.