MONROE, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors in Green County have cleared two sheriff’s deputies of wrongdoing in connection with the fatal shooting of a homicide suspect who pointed an empty gun at them.
In a report Friday, District Attorney Gary Luhman said Deputies Cody Kanable and John Schuetz were acting in self-defense and were justified when they shot 25-year-old Francisco Benitez-Santiago, of Monroe, in July.
According to Luhman’s report, Benitez-Santiago was hiding behind a building when he turned toward the deputies and pointed a pistol at them. They had no room to retreat.
“It was at that point, the two deputies were justified to discharge their weapons at Mr. Benitez-Santiago to prevent him from shooting at either or both of them,” Luhman’s report said.
A recent report by the Division of Criminal Investigation found that Benitez-Santiago’s pistol was empty. But Luhman wrote: “it would be speculative, at best, to infer” that Benitez-Santiago knew that when he pointed it at the deputies. “His motivation for engaging in the actions observed by the two deputies is irrelevant to my analysis of this incident,” Luhman said.
The Wisconsin State Journal reported that Luhman said the deputies acted in good faith and were performing duties that were called for when they encountered Benitez-Santiago, because they knew a witness had identified him as a man involved in a fatal shooting an hour earlier.
Luhman said the deputies’ response was a “reasonable and necessary response to the reported threat of an armed homicide suspect in the vicinity.”
Schuetz’s mother, Robin Schuetz, said both deputies have returned to work. They were on paid leave during the investigation.