Chippewa Co. officer cleared in fatal shooting case

  • In US
  • 2021-12-07 02:48:00Z
  • By Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis.

Dec. 6-CHIPPEWA FALLS - A Chippewa County deputy was cleared Monday of all wrong-doing in a fatal shooting that occured Oct. 8.

Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell released a report Monday afternoon, clearing Deputy Martin Folczyk in the shooting death of 30-year-old Lance R. Stelzer. Folczyk had stopped Stelzer, who was riding a moped, in in the town of Goetz, near Cadott, that evening. A physical altercation between Stelzer and Sergeant Folczyk broke out during the traffic stop and Stelzer sprayed Sergeant Folczyk with a substance. Sergeant Folczyk discharged his weapon, striking Stelzer.

Newell wrote that after reviewing the actions of Folczyk, he determined it "was a reasonable act of self defense."

"Wisconsin law allows all persons, including police officers, to use deadly force in an act of self-defense," Newell wrote. "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."

Newell said he reviewed numerous reports and recordings from the Wisconsin Department of Justice - Division of Criminal Investigation, which was the lead agency in the investigation. The report stated that during the traffic stop, Stelzer armed himself with a canister of Raid Wasp and Hornet spray, and began using it on Folczyk and another officer at the scene, hitting the deputies in their face and body. Both officers retreated from Stelzer. However, Stelzer charged at them and continued to use the spray can. Folczyk repeatedly asked Stelzer to stop.

"Sgt. Folczyk was backed up against a barbed-wire fence, at which point Sgt. Folczyk discharged his service weapon, strking Mr. Stelzer in the chest," Newell wrote. "Sgt. Folczyk provided first aid; however, Mr. Stelzer died as a result of the gunshot wound."

Stelzer was wearing thick, heavy clothing while riding his moped. Folczyk had a Taser, but he "knew his Taser would likely be ineffective on Mr. Stelzer due to the heavy jacket and layers of clothing Mr. Stelzer was wearing," Newell wrote.

It is unclear why Stelzer attacked the officers with the spray. Newell noted that "multiple individuals informed the investigating officers that Mr. Stelzer suffered from mental health issues, and that, int he past, Mr. Stelzer repeatedly talked about committing suicide by forcing law enforcement to shoot him."

Newell concludes the three-page report by reiterating that Folczyk acted in reasonable self-defense, "and that further action by the district attorney's office is not warranted."

Folczyk has worked 20 years in the Chippewa County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk praised the decision.

"Unfortunately, a situation arose where the officer had to make a quick, split-second decision," Kowalczyk said Monday afternoon. "I believe the actions of Officer Folczyk were justified, and I agree with the decision made by the District Attorney's office."


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