Chippewa Falls, WI – A Chippewa County sheriff’s sergeant will not be criminally charged in connection with the fatal officer-involved shooting of a suspect who attacked him and his partner with wasp killer in October.
The incident occurred on County Highway 0 in Goetz shortly after 7 p.m. on Oct. 8, when Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Sergeant Martin Folczyk and Deputy Branden Jerome pulled over 30-year-old Lance Stelzer for a taillight violation, WEAU reported.
Stelzer, who was wearing glasses and a ski mask and riding a moped, began spraying them in their faces with wasp killer during the traffic stop and ignored their commands to stop, according to Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell.
Stelzer then charged at Sgt. Folczyk aggressively and managed to back him down into a ditch and up against a barbed-wire fence, WQOW reported.
Since the suspect was wearing multiple layers of clothing, the sergeant knew the odds of a Taser being effective were nonexistent.
Pepper spray would also not deter him because of his glasses and ski mask, WQOW reported.
As Stelzer continued his assault, Sgt. Folczyk drew his duty weapon and shot his attacker in the chest, according to the district attorney’s office.
The sergeant immediately rendered first aid, but the suspect died of his wounds prior to reaching a hospital, the Leader-Telegram reported.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation handled the investigation into the officer-involved shooting with assistance from the Wisconsin State Patrol and the Eau Claire Police Department.
Investigators learned Stelzer had told multiple people about possibly committing suicide by cop, WQOQ reported.
Newell concluded Sgt. Folczyk “acted in reasonable self-defense” when he used deadly force against Stelzer and ruled his actions were justified, according to WEAU.
“Wisconsin law allows all persons, including police officers, to use deadly force in an act of self-defense,” Newell wrote, according to the Leader-Telegram. “The law requires all of the following: the officer believed that there was an actual or imminent unlawful interference with the officer’s person, and the officer believed that the amount of force the officer used or threatened to use was necessary to prevent or terminate the interference, and the officer’s beliefs were reasonable.”
Sgt. Folczyk has served the CCSO for the past 20 years, the Leader-Telegram reported.
“Unfortunately, a situation arose where the officer had to make a quick, split-second decision,” Chippewa County Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk told the paper Monday afternoon. “I believe the actions of Officer Folczyk were justified, and I agree with the decision made by the District Attorney’s office.”