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Mark Stodghill, Forum Communications Co., Published August 07 2010

Friends of Duluth 17-year-old shot and killed by officers says boy had run-in with police earlier that night

A 17-year-old boy whose friends said had been drinking earlier in the night died in the street near his Norton Park home late Thursday, shot by a Duluth police officer sitting behind the wheel of a squad car as the boy broke out the driver’s side window with a baseball bat.

Witnesses identified Joey Carl, who lived at 424 N. 79th Ave. W., as the victim.

Police said the teenager repeatedly and violently hit the squad car with a baseball bat as the officer attempted to back away after responding to a disturbance at the boy’s residence. The boy then swung the bat

and broke the driver’s side window of the squad, police said. The officer shot once, striking the boy.

During a Friday morning news conference at City Hall, Duluth Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said police responded to the 400 block of 79th Avenue West at 11:40 p.m. to a report of a 17-year-old inside the home breaking a TV and smashing windows. The reporting party left the home and was waiting outside.

While police were responding, numerous other 911 calls were received of windows being smashed, Ramsay said.

“As the first officer arrived, the male immediately ran up to the squad car and began swinging a baseball bat, striking the car repeatedly in the windshield, front end and passenger side,” Ramsay said. “The officer began reversing the car and sideswiped a parked vehicle and came to a stop.

“The male then swung that bat at the driver’s window, shattering the glass, and continued the attack while the officer was still seated in the squad car. A single shot was fired from the officer’s duty weapon and the male with the bat retreated.”

Ramsay said the officer who shot the boy radioed for medical help, and he and other officers administered CPR until medical personnel could take over. Despite those attempts, the boy died at the scene.

Ramsay said the officer who shot the boy is a three-year member of the department and has been placed on paid administrative leave as is standard procedure in such incidents. His name was not being immediately released.

Minnesota law authorizes the use of deadly force by a peace officer to protect the officer or another from apparent death or great bodily harm.

Ramsay declined to take questions because he said there was no other information that could be released. He said the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will investigate the shooting. Its investigators were on the scene Friday.

“Our investigators collect evidence at the scene, interview witnesses, and that whole process generally takes six to eight weeks,’’ said Doug Neville, spokesman for the BCA and Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

The BCA will then forward its reports to the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office. County Attorney Melanie Ford’s office could make the charging decision, or she could farm the case out to another county for independent review.

Carl had apparently become enraged in a dispute at his home, possibly with his father, and then used a bat to smash the windows of a Ford pickup in their driveway, witnesses said.

One neighbor said he recognized Carl and saw him chase a police car and hit the squad with the bat, including breaking the driver’s side window.

Another neighbor, Robin Overby, who lives next to the Carls, said, “Every window in their house and his dad’s truck is busted. He (Joey) really went off.”

Overby said he saw the body still lying, covered, in the street about 1:30 a.m.

“He wasn’t a bad kid. He had some problems. But nothing like this,” Overby said. “It’s not good.”

Linda Iverson, another neighbor, said she heard “pounding” sounds of the bat hitting vehicles and then heard someone she believed was a police officer talking to Carl, then heard a shot.

“It sounded like he really tried to talk Joey out of it. I could hear him say, ‘Joey, don’t do this, let’s talk,’ ” Iverson said. “The shot really didn’t sound any louder than the pounding noises.”

Another neighbor said they heard a man say: “Joey, you’re going to jail tonight,” and then heard a single gunshot.

Three of Carl’s friends – Nate Yost, Ben LaFontaine and Austin Overfors – said they had been at a bonfire in Morgan Park with Carl earlier in the evening that was broken up by police. They said Carl was cited by police for underage drinking and taken away from the bonfire in a squad car.

His friends said Carl later texted them that he got a ride home from police. The friends told the Duluth News Tribune that when they walked to Carl’s house they found it surrounded by police and were told the situation with Carl was “not good.”

It’s the second officer involved in a shooting in the Northland in the past two months.

On June 12, Minnesota State Trooper Travis Pearson shot and killed Donnie Joe Lira at Lira’s home near Cherry after Lira loaded and pointed a rifle at Pearson and refused repeated commands by the trooper to drop the gun.

News Tribune staff writers John Myers, Brandon Stahl and Lisa Baumann contributed to this report.

Mark Stodghill is a writer for the Duluth News Tribune