MOUNT HOPE, Wis. — A Grant County Sheriff's Department deputy will not face criminal charges for fatally shooting a man last month, a prosecutor announced tonight.
Deputy Andrew "Andy" Smith was "entitled to use deadly force" when he shot Roger B. Helgerson, Jr., 45, on Sept. 1, according to a press release issued by Grant County District Attorney Lisa Riniker.
The release said Smith reported that Helgerson pointed a gun at him, prompting Smith to fire, and that video evidence corroborates Smith's recounting of events.
Riniker's determination was based on an investigation into the shooting conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation.
The sheriff's department also conducted an internal investigation related to the shooting, which determined "no policy violations" took place, according to a press release issued tonight by Sheriff Nate Dreckman.
Neither Riniker nor Dreckman could be reached for follow-up comment.
Two deputies, Smith and Mason Nemitz, went to Helgerson’s residence at 14403 Millville Hollow Road near Mount Hope at about 7 a.m. Sept. 1 to serve warrants.
Smith parked his squad car north of Helgerson’s residence, while Nemitz parked to the south, according to a DCI investigation report.
A few minutes later, Helgerson left his residence and drove southbound along Millville Hollow. Upon seeing Nemitz’s car, Helgerson “exited his vehicle, re-entered it and drove away, northbound on Millville Hollow Road,” the report stated.
According to the release, prior to his encounter with Helgerson, Smith had been informed by sheriff's department officials that Helgerson "had made reference to having a shootout with law enforcement in reference to a foreclosure action."
"Having that knowledge, Deputy Smith had his department-issued rifle ready for use," it states.
Dashboard camera footage from Smith's squad car shows him driving south on Millville Hollow when he encounters a northbound car driven by Helgerson.
Smith turns around his squad car and activates his siren. Helgerson does not stop immediately, but after a short period of time, he comes to a stop on the left shoulder of the road. Smith stops his squad car more in the middle of the roadway and a distance behind Helgerson's vehicle.
As Helgerson gets out of his vehicle, Smith shouts, "Let me see your hands," and then "Drop it. Drop it." Three shots can be heard.
Smith gets on his radio immediately. "Shots fired, Grant (County). Shots fired. He pointed a gun at me."
Nemitz also was on the scene at this point, and Smith yells at him to back up his squad car, while Smith does the same. Smith tells dispatchers that Helgerson went down when Smith fired.
Smith fired three times at Helgerson, who dropped to the ground, according to the DCI report. Smith was unable to see Helgerson due to obstruction from “tall weeds.”
“Deputy Smith was unsure if he shot Helgerson and that was the reason Helgerson went down, or if Helgerson went down to the ground, attempting to hide from Deputy Smith and was planning to attack,” the report stated.
The deputies waited until additional law enforcement officers arrived with an armored vehicle. Law enforcement eventually located Helgerson, who was dead. An autopsy later determined Helgerson suffered two gunshot wounds -- one to the neck and one to the chest.
The release states that dashboard camera video from Smith's squad car corroborated his statement.
"While overgrown vegetation and the position of the squad car camera make it difficult to see, there is a point in the video where there is an object in Mr. Helgerson’s right hand positioned next to his body which is pointed in the area where Deputy Smith would be," the release states.
It also reports that a .22-caliber long rifle was found "within (Helgerson's) grasp" with "one bullet in the chamber and several unfired cartridges either on Mr. Helgerson’s person or in the immediate area of his body."