North Dakota trooper fatally shoots Montana man after chase

September 8, 2021 GMT

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) — A North Dakota Highway Patrol trooper shot and killed a man following a more than 20-mile pursuit on Interstate 94 in the western part of the state, authorities said Wednesday.

The patrol said the shooting happened at around 8:20 p.m. Tuesday about 13 miles west of Mandan. The trooper had joined Morton County sheriff’s deputies in chasing a reported reckless driver.

The lone occupant of the vehicle, 45-year-old Craig Knutson, of Billings, Montana, was killed in the shooting. A gun was found in his vehicle, the patrol said.

Highway Patrol Maj. Thomas Iverson said Knutson died of a single gunshot wound. He declined to say whether Knutson had fired the gun or was holding it before the trooper shot him. Iverson also declined to say whether Knutson was inside or outside of his vehicle when he was shot and he refused to release the trooper’s name.

Iverson said the trooper’s dash camera did not capture the shooting because he had used his car to block the man’s vehicle. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said it wasn’t immediately clear whether dash cameras on three deputies’ cars recorded the shooting.

None of the officers were wearing body cameras.

Kirchmeier and Iverson said the pursuit began about 7 miles east of Hebron and ended after deputies placed spike strips on the highway and the trooper used his cruiser to push the fleeing vehicle’s rear end sideways, sending it into a spin.

Authorities would not say why Knutson fled.

The fleeing “van-type” vehicle was traveling at highway speeds but slowed to about 10 mph after the spike strips were deployed about 3 miles from where the shooting occurred, Kirchmeier said.

Iverson said after the vehicle stopped, the trooper saw that Knutson had a gun and told the three deputies at the scene about the weapon before he fired the fatal shot.

The case is being investigated by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The trooper has been placed on standard administrative leave pending the investigation and a review by the Morton County State’s Attorney.

Iverson said the last fatal shooing involving a trooper was in 2010.