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Olmsted County Attorney: No charges against deputy who fired weapon in December arrest attempt

Olmsted County Deputy Sean Michael Cooper use of deadly force was justified, according to the Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem.

Incident
Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office and Rochester Police Department respond to an incident Dec. 14, 2022, outside of Planet Fitness in Southeast Rochester.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin file photo
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ROCHESTER — An Olmsted County Sheriff's deputy use of deadly force was justified, Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem wrote in a news release Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

Deputy Sean Michael Cooper, a three-year veteran of the Sheriff's Office and a licensed peace officer since 2005, fired his service weapon once during a warrant arrest attempt of Jesse James Johnson, 38, in front a Rochester Planet Fitness. Johnson is accused of backing into the vehicles of law enforcement officers before Cooper fired.

"Because the evidence in this case conclusively establishes that Deputy Cooper’s use of deadly force was reasonable, our office chooses to decline prosecution in this matter. We will not be filing a criminal complaint and we will not be presenting this case to a grand jury," Ostrem wrote.

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According to the news release:

Cooper was involved in a Dec. 14, 2022, arrest attempt of Johnson as a member of the Sheriff's Office warrant team. Cooper tracked Johnson, who had an Olmsted County warrant, to the Planet Fitness in southwest Rochester and notified the Southeast Violent Enforcement Team for assistance.

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Several officers, including Cooper, attempted to use their vehicles to box in Johnson's Pontiac G6 while it was stopped near the building.

Johnson is accused of backing into two law enforcement vehicles, at which point Cooper fired his service handgun. Johnson drove forward and eluded police who pursued him.

Johnson has still not been apprehended by law enforcement.

A blood analysis of Cooper found no alcohol or other substances present. Cooper is also current on his use of force training.

Ostrem considered various levels of assault charges against Cooper but found his conduct during the incident to be reasonable.

"In order for a criminal complaint or indictment to be filed in this case, the evidence must show unreasonable conduct by the deputy, viewed from the perspective of a reasonable police officer," Ostrem wrote. "The evidence must show that the use of deadly force was not necessary to protect the deputy or another person from a threat of great bodily harm or death."

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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