20 April 2022
DULUTH – An instructor with the Duluth Police Department who coordinates use-of-force training told jurors that Tyler Leibfried, after hearing what he believed to be gunshots coming from the apartment he was standing outside of, had a handful of options — including knocking on the door or calling out to see if someone inside needed help.
“Is one of the reasonable options to discharge a firearm?” prosecuting attorney Aaron Welch asked Sgt. Joel Olejnicak.
“No,” he responded.
Testimony continued Wednesday in the case against Leibfried, a police officer who faces felony charges tied to shooting Jared Fyle through the door of his downtown apartment in September 2020. The defense is arguing that Leibfried heard two bangs as he stood outside the apartment — a noise he believed to be the sound of gunshots, but which turned out to be Fyle using a hatchet to pound his door closed.
Pressed by defense attorney Paul Engh about whether the bangs sounded like shots, Olejnicak said they did.
Katie Kosloski, who was dating Fyle at the time of the shooting, testified that she and Fyle had been fighting that night. Two neighbors called 911 to report the domestic dispute. Kosloski did, too, though she was looking for an escort back to their shared apartment to gather belongings and leave for the night.
She trailed officers Leibfried and Cory Lindsholm to the landing below her floor. She heard the heavy oak door close, she said, then the words “shots fired.”
Fyle, having just locked his door, heard someone — though he didn’t know who or why — yell “shots fired” from the hallway. He dropped to the floor of his apartment, he told jurors, before he was shot through the door by Leibfried. The bullet hit him in the upper right section of his back.
“That’s when I started yelling — and that’s when more shots came through the door,” said Fyle, who still lives in the same Kingsley Heights apartment complex.
He is planning to file a civil lawsuit against the Duluth Police Department and the city of Duluth, he said.
Lindsholm, who was second on the scene and served as Leibfried’s backup out of view of Fyle’s door, said when he heard the bangs he thought the other officer had been shot and that his own life was in danger. He didn’t shoot because he didn’t have a target, he said.
A handful of Duluth police officers, some retired and some working on the night shift, sat in the back rows of the courtroom in support of Leibfried — who some had worked alongside.