Police Officer Shoots Unarmed Man Wearing Only a Speedo

6kasota0722Tyler Heilman, 24, was shot and killed outside of his home in Kastoa, Minnesota by Deputy Sheriff Todd Waldron. The shooting is particularly controversial because Heilman was unarmed and wearing only a speedo swimsuit.

Waldron had followed Heilman from a pool in an unmarked Dodge Durango. Police say that he was driving erratically and even went up an embankment at one point.

The family says that Waldron never identified himself as an officer despite the fact that he demanded to see Heilman’s license. The two got into a scuffle and after wrestling on the ground, Heilman got up. It was then that, according to the family, he saw the badge on Waldron’s belt and was raising his hands, when Waldron, 37, fired four shots – two hitting Heilman.

The family insists that Waldron never told Heilman to freeze or gave him a chance.

The incident raises a legitimate question over the use of lethal force. Assaulting the officer certainly allows an officer to take efforts to subdue the suspect with a baton, taser or even pulling his service weapon. A past assault is insufficient if the suspect is raising his hands or not continuing to assault the officer. Such a use would be viewed as retaliation rather than self-defense.

In Tennessee v. Garner, the Court held that lethal force cannot be used to apprehend a suspect:

The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so. It is no doubt unfortunate when a suspect who is in sight escapes, but the fact that the police arrive a little late or are a little slower afoot does not always justify killing the suspect. A police officer may not seize an unarmed, nondangerous suspect by shooting him dead. The Tennessee statute is unconstitutional insofar as it authorizes the use of deadly force against such fleeing suspects.

An officer cannot only use lethal force if he is under threat of serious harm or protecting others from such an imminent threat. If he pulled the weapon and fired without further provocation or threat from Heilman, there is a real problem with this shooting. The investigation will have to determine if Heilman was charging the officer at the same of the shooting. The prior assault makes the case a difficult one. Even if Waldron did not identify himself as claimed, one usually assumes that someone asking to look at your license is an officer — particularly after (as claimed by the police) you have been driving erratically.

Heilman is survived by a three-year-old son. The family has announced plans for a lawsuit, here.

For the full story, click here and here.

25 thoughts on “Police Officer Shoots Unarmed Man Wearing Only a Speedo”

  1. Always swim in the place with a lifeguard train station which has a lifeguard present. A lifeguard needs to be preserving observe on your own part of the actual beach front always.swim fins

  2. Reading the entire account Gomnvikes belief that it exonerates Officer is to be charitable, premature. The truth is still quite up in the air but for the young man to have died due to his intervention is intolerable. After all the Officer’s only basis of suspicion was that in his opinion the car was driving “erratically”

    “Waldron called for a squad to respond, lost sight of the car and went to an apartment complex on an unrelated matter,”

    Just a felicitous coincidence finding the cars occupants. They were now out of the car so what was the Officer’s investigation of them going to be about? The officer by his own word did not see them park. The driving “erratically” was judgment call open to many interpretations, some of which would not be illegal and a squad of officers was on the way to do what exactly? It really seems to me that the officer was being hyper zealous and perhaps had some personal investment in this. Perhaps he felt he had been cut off by the offending auto. In any event the events leading up to the officer’s confrontation do not seem anywhere in the league of requiring the death of a “supposed” perpertrator and the appearance of a new witness, casually driving by and stopping to see a fistfight might well be taken with a grain of salt since that witness dis not view the events providing context to the struggle.

    In my opinion, based on the cited story alone, this was Manslaughter fueled by the officers feeling slighted. Just another example of life in today’s America, that has allowed its’ police officers to forget that their first duty is to the public and not in ensuring the obeisance of the public.

  3. Who knows? A civil suit perhaps? This all seems an injustice based on the deputy’s supposition that Mr. Hielman knew Waldron was an officer and the county attorney’s limited direction/instructions to the grand jury.


    “The only question the grand jury had before it was whether there was probable cause to believe that Waldron’s actions were murder, the jury said no,” Johnson said Tuesday.

    Also at issue was whether or not Hileman knew Waldron, again in plain clothes, was a deputy.

    The attorney’s say it was obvious. He (Waldron) said Hileman looked at his badge and gun several times.


  4. Quote:

    “A grand jury decided this month not to indict Waldron in the case.

    Which I think was an incorrect decision, especially given the additional facts.

    Mighty mouse Le Sueur County sheriff’s deputy Tom Waldron was out of his league and he should have waited for the squad car to arrive. He instigated an altercation that needlessly caused the death of a father.


    Assistant Anoka County Attorney Andrew Johnson “confirmed that Waldron did not verbally identify himself as a law enforcement officer.”

    This certainly appears an injustice to me and another case of giving unwarranted deference to the officer.

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