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Hastings officer justified in shooting death, county attorney concludes

Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom found police officer Geoffrey Latsch was legally justified in the October shooting death of Hastings resident Keagan Johnson-Lloyd, according to a news release Dec. 19, 2018.

In the determination, Backstrom said "the use of deadly force by a peace officer is justified to protect the officer or another person from death or great bodily harm. Here, Officer Latsch subjective belief was objectively reasonable under the circumstances present at the time of this incident."

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An officer was called to the Spirit Recovery Center, a sober living facility, around 3:40 p.m. Oct.1 for a report of an assault, according to the county attorney's report. The alleged victim told the officer that Johnson-Lloyd had assaulted him with a kitchen knife. There was a puncture wound in the victim's leg. Johnson-Lloyd had left the scene and the knife was not recovered, according to the report.

Just before 6:20 p.m. that day, police received information that Johnson-Lloyd was seen in the area 15th Street West and Walnut Street.

Officers Geoffrey Latsch and Craig Nowlan were the first to respond to the area, and they saw a man matching Johnson-Lloyd's description. According to the report, when Officer Latsch exited his vehicle Johnson-Lloyd ran toward him with what he believed to be a knife.

Officer Latsch fired his handgun three times, the report said.

A summary of Latsch's statement stated "his only option was to discharge his firearm to protect himself."

Body camera footage from Sgt. Kyle Linscheid, who arrived on the scene after the incident, showed a razor blade in Johnson-Lloyd's right hand, according to the report.

Backstrom expressed his sympathy to Johnson-Lloyd's friends and family, stating, "Although I have concluded that the use of deadly force by this police officer was legally justified in this instance, any loss of life is a tragic occurrence."