Defense says tragedy, prosecution says crime as testimony in Washington Co. deputy's manslaughter trial begins

The manslaughter trial for a former Washington County Sheriff's Deputy is underway in Stillwater, with the prosecution and defense offering opening statement to the jury Wednesday.

Wednesday marked the opening day of testimony in the manslaughter trial of a Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Deputy Brian Krook is accused of fatally shooting a suicidal Lake Elmo man two years ago when the man posed no threat to police.

23-year-old Ben Evans had moved to Minnesota for a girlfriend, but it felt apart. On April 11, 2018, he’d learned she was seeing someone else. He drank much of the day and called her that night, saying he wanted to marry her. She hung up.

The first witness in the trial of Krook, who shot evens that night after a suicidal standoff, was Evan’s friend Brianna Gysbers, who’d been trying to support him all day.

She testified after the phone call that he grew quiet, put on his firefighter dress uniform and basically told her he had two hours left and there was nothing she could do about it.

He wrote a goodbye letter to his parents and an apology letter to first responders.

He kneeled at the crosswalk at 34th and Lake Elmo Avenue with a gun to his head as his friend called 911.

Krook’s defense, in their opening statements, told jurors this was a suicide-by-cop case, calling it a tragedy, not a crime.

They said Evans was a constant threat to officers and that when Krook saw arm movement, he fired.

The defense says the reason he died was because he wouldn’t put his gun down, but the prosecution said Evans never pointed his gun anywhere but his own head and chest, even discarding the clip to leave only one bullet in the chamber.

Gysbers testified that Evans intended to shoot himself, but had no intention to shoot a cop or any intention to make them shoot him.