Eau Claire, WI – The district attorney has ruled that the Eau Claire police officer who shot 30-year-old LeKenneth Q. Miller was justified in using deadly force to stop the man armed with a knife who had already stabbed one woman.
Authorities said the incident began when police received a 911 hang-up call at about 2:39 p.m. on Nov. 3, WEAU reported.
Dispatchers called the number back and a woman answered and told them Miller had broken into a residence located in the 400-block of Selma Street and that she and her friend – who was Miller’s ex-girlfriend – were hiding in a bedroom with the door locked.
The woman told the dispatcher that Miller had strangled her friend a week earlier, according WEAU.
She said they couldn’t escape via the bedroom window.
The woman stayed on the phone with dispatchers while police responded to the home, updating them that at about 2:47 p.m., Miller had gone to the kitchen to get a knife to try to break in to the bedroom, WEAU reported.
Officers arrived at the home and approached the residence on foot.
Dispatchers confirmed with the woman that Miller was still in the house and then suddenly, the dispatcher heard screaming, WEAU reported.
When Eau Claire Police Officers Kristopher O’Neill and Jason Kaveney heard the screaming from inside the house, they drew their service weapons and tried to kick open the front door.
Their efforts were captured on the home’s Ring doorbell camera.
The officers were unable to gain entry through the front door and ran around to a side door that the caller was coming out of at that moment, WEAU reported.
The caller was crying and screaming that Miller had stabbed her friend, according to police.
Officers O’Neill and Kaveney entered the home and could hear a woman screaming from somewhere inside, WEAU reported.
The officers encountered Miller in the kitchen where he appeared to be arming himself with yet another knife.
Miller was 10-to-12 feet away from the officers when he turned to look at them and raised the knife in his right hand, WEAU reported.
Officer O’Neill ordered Miller to drop the knife.
Miller ignored the officer’s commands and began moving toward the officers, WEAU reported.
Officer O’Neill opened fire on Miller and shot him six times.
Miller still had not dropped the knife when Officer O’Neill ran out of ammo so the officer reloaded his weapon, WEAU reported.
But before he finished reloading, Miller fell to the ground and knife came out of his hand.
Officers found the victim bleeding in the bathroom with stab wounds to her face, left eye, hand, arms, and legs, WEAU reported.
She was airlifted to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for treatment.
Miller was pronounced dead at the scene, according to WEAU.
The victim told investigators that Miller had been violent with her in the past, and battered and strangled her just a week earlier.
Her Ring doorbell camera proved Miller had approached her home numerous times in recent days.
Investigators found a broken knife in the bathroom, with the handle and the blade in two different locations, WEAU reported.
Police said a second knife was recovered nearby.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) – Division of Criminal Investigation conducted the investigation into the officer-involved shooting, WEAU reported.
Based on the findings in that report, the Eau Claire County District Attorney’s Office’s announced it had concluded that Officer O’Neill’s use of deadly force was justified as a reasonable act of self-defense and defense of others.
The district attorney’s office said that based on its ruling, no further action was warranted, WEAU reported.
“Officers Kris O’Neill and Jason Kaveney took decisive and necessary action to protect members of our community,” Eau Claire Police Chief Matt Rokus said in a statement, according to WQOW. “When doing so, they put themselves in harm’s way. Once LeKenneth Miller’s violent behavior was stopped, officers immediately began administering life-saving measures to both Miller and the person he was attacking with a knife. The actions of these officers were heroic.”
Chief Rokus said both officers have been restored to full duty, WEAU reported.