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Review of police shooting waits for test results

By Janice Gregorson

gregor@postbulletin.com

The review of investigative reports into the September shooting of a Sudanese man by a Rochester police officer could take "a couple months," according to the head of the division doing the review.

Phil Carruthers, director of the prosecution division of the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, said Friday afternoon that they still are waiting for a few reports and test results from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The Olmsted County attorney's office asked the Ramsey County office to review the reports to avoid any conflict of interest.

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The case stems from the shooting of Christofar Atak the night of Sept. 2. Atak was shot once in the back.

Rochester Police Chief Roger Peterson reported Sept. 12 that the state BCA had substantially completed its investigation and had concluded the shooting was accidental. Peterson said officers Greg Siem and Doug Remling had responded to a report of Atak fighting and damaging property at a northwest Rochester residence. Peterson said the BCA determined the shooting occurred while the officers were trying to subdue Atak at the scene and that Siem thought he was using a stun gun when he fired his handgun at Atak, hitting him in the back.

Carruthers' office is reviewing the reports to determine if charges should be filed against Atak or the officers. He said Friday that the file is extensive and they are still waiting for results from a few BCA tests.

"It will take a while. It could be a couple months,'' he said of the length of time before the review is complete. He noted that the file is very extensive. He also noted that his office is also reviewing three other police-related shootings in Minnesota.

"We try to be very thorough,'' he said.

Rochester police are conducting an internal investigation, but that won't be completed until the Ramsey County review is done and all of the BCA reports are available, Peterson said.

Peterson said that based on all of the information made available so far, "it is clear we are looking at an accidental situation."

He said the internal review will focus on prevention in the future.

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"We are looking at policy, training and our equipment,'' Peterson said. "Even though this was an extremely unusual situation, we need to address it to avoid any potential situation in the future."

Immediately after the shooting, Remling and Siem were put on administrative leave pending the BCA investigation. They have both since returned to active duty, Peterson said.

Atak was released from the hospital last week. His attorneys are independently investigating the shooting.

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