Family of man killed in Vadnais Heights officer-involved shooting responds to case reopening

- In a stunning revelation, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, admitted this week that it failed to turn over key evidence in the fatal 2017 officer-involved shooting of a Vadnais Heights man.

Before 47-year-old Darren Jahnke was killed inside an RV, he used his cell phone to record the audio of his entire interaction with authorities. The recording was never turned over to the Ramsey County Attorney. 

“I’m really disappointed that the BCA failed to provide adequate information to the county attorneys to insure that they can provide an educated decision regarding my brother’s death,” said Jenny Vance, Jahnke’s sister.

According to the BCA, the agent assigned to review Jahnke’s cell phone never listened to the recordings. Now, months after deciding not to pursue charges against the four officers involved, the attorney’s office is reopening the case. For Jahnke’s family, the revelation comes after months of heartache, and frustration over the initial investigation.

“I’m hopeful that it will shed new light,” said Vance. “That they’ll see something that they didn’t see before, and that there would be an outcome that at my brother would deserve.”

According to authorities, the evening of Easter Sunday of last year, Jahnke struggled with several officers in an RV. After allegedly disarming one of the deputies, Jahnke was shot in the back of the head.

“It seems like no time has passed,” said Vance. “It’s just so fresh in our family’s minds and hearts.”

Right now, it's unclear what the audio recordings reveal or how it will impact the case.

The BCA released the following statement on Thursday:

“Today the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension presented a piece of recorded audio evidence to our office related to the officer-involved shooting death of Darren Jahnke on April 16, 2017. This evidence was not submitted by the BCA as a part of their original investigation, and therefore was never considered by prosecutors in our office. While it is disappointing that this evidence was not presented to us, we appreciate that the BCA is taking steps to ensure that this does not occur again. Prosecutors are carefully reviewing the audio and have requested that the BCA prepare a written transcript of that audio. It is also possible that, during the course of our review of this recently produced evidence, we may have follow up questions for the BCA. Our prosecution review of this matter should be considered re-opened. Once a decision has been made, we will notify the public and provide further information.”

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