St. Louis Park officer won't face charges in deadly 2019 shooting
ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. (FOX 9) - A St. Louis Park, Minnesota police officer won't face charges in the fatal shooting of a man during an incident at an apartment last year.
Matthew Tuhkanen died after being shot four times by police following a 911 call on January 19, 2019.
Police were called to Tuhkanen's girlfriend's apartment at Louisiana Court Apartments on Louisiana Avenue South around 5 p.m. for the report of a domestic dispute.
In a 911 call, his girlfriend said that he had been arguing with her but had not harmed her. However, she added Tuhkanen was wanted on three warrants for parole violations in Anoka County.
Prosecutors say Tuhkanen ran from officers when they arrived and police were unable to find him initially. But, Officer Samuel Heffernan, a six-year veteran of the force, agreed to watch the building to see if he returned.
Less than an hour later, a neighbor called 911 to report that Tuhkanen had returned. Officer Heffernan and three other officers responded to the call.
After knocking on the door, Tuhkanen's girlfriend answered. The officers reported she was "pale, trembling, had watery eyes, and could only whisper." Prosecutors say she told police Tuhkanen was "back there" and motioned into the apartment.
Police found Tuhkanen in the bedroom. Officers formed a line and Officer Heffernan took his gun out but pointed down towards the ground, prosecutors said.
According to the report, Tuhkanen wouldn't listen to orders, even choosing to light a cigarette during the standoff, and was combative.
At one point, Officer Heffernan warned if Tuhkanen didn't comply with orders, he would be shot. Eventually, police said Tuhkanen crouched down, moved towards the dresser and made a "jerking motion with his left hand."
Police said they thought Tuhkanen was reaching for something they couldn't see. Officer Heffernan ended up firing four shots, with two hitting Tuhkanen's torso and two hitting his right arm.
Prosecutors say shots were fired within 12 minutes of officers arriving at the apartment.
After a review, prosecutors say they determined the shooting of Tuhkanen was justified because it appeared he was reaching for a weapon. However, police later found he had no weapons.
Officer Heffernan has been on non-patrol duties since the shooting, which is protocol. The department is still working to determine when he will return to normal duty.
The St. Louis Park Police Department will conduct a secondary review of the shooting after receiving the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office's report. They will determine if department policies and procedures were followed during the call. The department says this is also standard protocol.
No bodycam video was available for the incident.