Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that the Dakota County Grand Jury has concluded that three Burnsville Police Officers Taylor Jacobs, John Mott, and Maksim Yakovlev were legally justified when they used deadly force in the shooting death of Map Kong, age 38 of Chaska, while responding to a report of a male with a knife inside a vehicle in the McDonalds parking lot near Highway 13 in Burnsville on March 17, 2016.
Four Burnsville police officers responded to the scene in separate vehicles shortly after 6:15 a.m. and observed an individual later identified as Map Kong, sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle and erratically bouncing around while aggressively waving a large dagger-style knife which he was holding in his hand. Mr. Kong ignored repeated orders by officers to drop the knife. Due to fears for their own safety and the safety of others in the vicinity should Mr. Kong exit the vehicle with the knife, the officers made a decision to attempt to deploy a Taser to incapacitate Mr. Kong, which they did by breaking the passenger side windows and deploying this non-lethal weapon on two occasions. Unfortunately, the Taser had no effect upon Mr. Kong and he then bolted from the vehicle while carrying the knife. At that time three of the four Burnsville police officers at the scene fired their service weapons. Mr. Kong immediately fell to the ground and officers secured the scene, called for medical assistance, and checked for a pulse on Mr. Kong which was not found.
The autopsy of Mr. Kong revealed that he died from multiple gunshot wounds. Toxicology tests performed on Mr. Kong’s urine and blood draw taken during the autopsy tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine.
Backstrom indicated that it has been the policy of his office since 1990 to present all cases involving the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer in Dakota County to a Grand Jury to determine whether or not the use of such deadly force was legally justified under Minnesota law.
To aid the public in understanding the facts and circumstances surrounding this incident, attached hereto is a memo prepared by the Criminal Division Head of the Dakota County Attorney’s Office. This memo summarizes the information obtained during the course of this investigation, including the names of the officers involved.
Under Minnesota law, the use of deadly force by a peace officer is justified in the line of duty when necessary:
- to protect the peace officer or another person from apparent death or great bodily harm;
- to effect the arrest or capture, or prevent the escape, of a person whom the peace officer knows or has reasonable grounds to believe has committed or attempted to commit a felony involving the use or threatened use of deadly force; or
- to effect the arrest or capture, or prevent the escape, of a person whom the officer knows or has reasonable grounds to believe has committed or attempted to commit a felony if the officer reasonably believes that the person will cause death or great bodily harm if the person’s apprehension is delayed.
In order to bring charges against a peace officer for using deadly force in the line of duty, the State must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force was not justified. The intentional discharge of a firearm constitutes deadly force.
In determining whether a legal justification exists for a peace officer to use deadly force, the facts and circumstances must be reviewed from the perspective of what would a reasonable peace officer have done at the time of the incident. The proper inquiry requires careful attention to the facts and circumstances of each particular case. In making this determination, allowance must be made for the fact that peace officers are often forced to make split-second decisions about the amount of force necessary in a particular situation. The question is whether the peace officer’s actions are “objectively reasonable” in light of the facts and a circumstance confronting the officer, without regard to the officer’s underlying intent or motivation.
Backstrom expressed his sympathy to the family and friends of Map Kong whose life was lost in this incident. Although the Grand Jury has determined that the use of deadly force by these police officers was legally justified in this instance, any loss of life is a tragic occurrence.
Backstrom also extended his concern for the well-being of the officers involved in this incident and their families as they deal with and process the emotional impact of taking a life in the line of duty. Backstrom commented: “Law enforcement officers are trained to protect and serve our communities each and every day. Unfortunately there are times when officers are placed in a situation where they must use deadly force to protect themselves and the public.”
Backstrom thanked the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension which served as the lead investigative agency regarding this incident and the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office who assisted them.
Backstrom indicated that access to body cam videos employed by the four officers involved in this incident and the investigative reports compiled in this case may be accessed by contacting BCA Public Information Officer Jill Oliveira at 651-793-2726.
If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440.