Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

UPDATE: DA finds Marathon County Deputy justified in use of deadly force during March standoffSubmitted: 05/19/2017
Lane Kimble
Lane Kimble
News Director
lkimble@wjfw.com

UPDATE: DA finds Marathon County Deputy justified in use of deadly force during March standoff
WAUSAU -
An apparently paranoid and armed man with meth in his system held another man hostage for more than two hours this winter.

When that man, 33-year-old John Hall, waved a rifle past police and his hostage, Marathon County Sheriff's Deputy Brandon Stroik fired a single shot killing Hall.


Two and a half months later, on Friday, Marathon County District Attorney Theresa Wetzsteon announced Stroik was justified in the shooting. That was after an extensive Department of Justice investigation.  Wisconsin law requires an outside agency to investigate any officer-involved shooting.

"After careful consideration of all the available evidence, I have concluded that Deputy Brandon Stroik was justified in his use of lethal force during this incident," Wetzsteon wrote in her report.

Just after 1 a.m. on March 2, 2017, Marathon County Sheriff's Deputy Megan Sowinski pulled up to a truck at the intersection of Swan and Morning Glory in Rib Mountain. Sowinski initially thought the truck was in the ditch or had been in a crash, but quickly she saw something was wrong.

"I'm at Swan and Morning Glory," Sowinski radioed in on audio released in the DOJ's report Friday morning. "He's got a gun pointed at someone else."

Sowinski spotted a man soon to be identified as Hall holding another man at gunpoint. Sowinski could be heard many times asking Hall, "What's going on?" asking Hall to simply talk to her.

Within a few minutes additional sheriff's deputies, including Deputy Stroik, rushed to the scene to help out. Meanwhile, Sowinski repeatedly asked Hall to put down his handgun and rifle and to let his hostage go.

"John, is there anything I can do to get you to drop the gun and come talk to me?" Sowinski can be heard saying on her dash cam footage.

A more than two-hour-long standoff was underway. Department of Justice reports show Hall repeatedly questioned if officers on scene were real police. Hall seemed convinced the man he was holding hostage planned to kill him and his wife.

A sheriff's office communications specialist talked to Hall on a cell phone delivered by a bomb squad robot during the standoff. She later told investigators Hall would alternate talking to her and his hostage.

"He wanted to talk, I let him vent," the specialist recalled. That audio came from a recording during a post-standoff interview about 12 hours later.

"[I could hear (the hostage) in the background saying,] 'Just [expletive] let me go, I don't want to die with you,'" the specialist recalled. "And John said, 'That's too bad.'"

About 45 yards away, Deputy Stroik took a sniper's position, watching Hall through a scope. Stroik is a U.S. Army veteran and a trained marksman. The DA's report shows Stroik also served in the National Guard from September 2008 through September 2014. Stroik began with the MCSO as a full-time patrol deputy and canine handler in January 2014. He is a member of the SWAT team.

Officers could be heard on released scanner audio during the standoff.

"He's waving a pistol around," one officer said.

"He pointed it right at me, FYI," said another.

"I do not have a shot due to the hostage," an officer, possibly Stroik, can be heard replying.

Hall's wife would later tell police her husband was in a car crash in November 2016 and injured his head. On the night of the standoff, Hall's wife says her husband was tearing the house apart and cutting wires because Hall thought people were listening to him and spying on him.

About 2 1/2 hours into the standoff, Hall dropped his handgun. Hall ignored officers' commands to leave the gun and picked it back up. A few minutes later, Hall started swinging his rifle around across police positions, then back at his hostage, who was now inside the truck.

Moments later, at 3:29 a.m., Deputy Stroik fired one shot from his sniper position, hitting Hall in the head.

Officers moved in and rescued the hostage. Stroik told investigators he believed Hall was about to shoot an officer or the hostage right before the deputy took the shot.

"The position that he took was a disadvantage to him, but he kept everyone else safe," Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks said of Stroik on Friday morning.

Toxicology reports show Hall tested positive for methamphetamine. Those tests showed Hall had about two-times the concentration of meth as reported in users who demonstrate violent or irrational behavior. A baggie of meth was found in Hall's pocket.

 "Unfortunately the controlled substance caused Mr. Hall to react in ways that he normally would not," Parks said.

In her report, the Marathon County DA wrote, "Deputy Stroik had no reasonable opportunity to use any lesser means of force... Deputy Sowinski and the Crisis Negotiation Team members along with all the officers who responded to this incident acted with great restraint, demonstrating respect for the life of the civilian hostage and Hall."

Hall's family released a written statement Friday afternoon in response to the DA's findings.

"While watching the dash cam video, our family was extremely impressed with the attitude Officer Solinski [sic] portrayed throughout the entire situation. She appeared to keep John as civil as possible through his agitated state."

The family's statement goes on to question Hall's meth use, noting "we believe John did not willingly take meth.

"John has been greatly missed and is a huge loss for our family. A part of our hearts is forever gone."

You can read the entire Hall family statement below.

"While watching the dash cam video, our family was extremely impressed with the attitude Officer Solinski portrayed throughout the entire situation. She appeared to keep John as civil as possible through his agitated state.

We were very shocked to find out he had methamphetamine in his system. Until his car accident, he was the same man we have always known. While we are well aware that the signs and symptoms he showed that night correlate with a methamphetamine user, they also correlate with a traumatic brain injury. 

There seems to be confusion that a concussion is not a traumatic brain injury (TBI) . The definition of a TBI is "A blow or jolt to the head that can change the way a brain normally works." A concussion is indeed considered a TBI. 

We believe John did not willingly take meth. We found it odd he had an empty baggy in his right pocket, even though he always kept his possessions in his left pocket. 

In the past months leading up to this incident, John requested law enforcement to search his vehicle for drugs and bombs. Due to those incidents, we requested to have the baggy with the residue of methamphetamine finger-printed, but our request was denied by the supervisor of the Department of Justice, because it happened before the incident occurred, therefore, it was irrelevant to the investigation. 

John has been greatly missed and is a huge loss for our family. A part of our hearts is forever gone.
We believe laws and regulations in Wisconsin are not what they should be, and will be fighting to bring stricter regulations, as well as requirements that more resources and training are available to employees who may be actively involved with an individual who has a mental illness. 

We tried to get John the help he needed, and were repeatedly turned down. Our goal is to make it near impossible for others to be turned away in there time of need.

Sincerely,
The family of John Hall"





The Marathon County District Attorney found the officer who killed an armed man in Rib Mountain this winter justified.

DA Theresa Wetzsteon released her findings Friday morning.

Marathon County Deputy Brandon Stroik shot and killed John J. Hall with a single rifle shot after a standoff that lasted more than two hours. It happened early in the morning on March 2nd near the intersection of Morning Glory Lane and Swan Avenue in Rib Mountain.

Hall was holding a man hostage outside a pickup truck. Hall had a handgun and rifle, acting "animated" and paranoid, according to the DA's report.

An autopsy found methamphetamine in Hall's system.  He was 33 years old.

Stroik is a U.S. Army veteran, trained sniper, and has been with the Marathon County Sheriff's Office since 2014.

This story will be updated.


Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A snow storm caught Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander off guard last weekend and collapsed a greenhouse. Now that spring weather is here, Hanson's is ready to move forward by making some adjustments.
"We got by for 25 years doing what we were doing," said Hanson's Garden Village Co-owner Brent Hanson.
Last weekend's spring snow storm set back Hanson's.
"We thought we were ahead of schedule having that greenhouse nice and filled," said Hanson's Manager Beth Hanson. 

"One bad storm and there you go. Things happen," said Brent.
The storm collapsed a greenhouse holding thousands of plants.
"For years we've gotten by with these lighter cheaper green houses," said Brent.
"We'll be down a greenhouse for a little bit here," said Beth.
Now Hanson's will only use sturdier and solid greenhouses so that collapses don't become a pattern.

+ Read More

Play Video

MOSINEE - From here on out, Mosinee's Kevin Osterbrink will plow snow with a Stormy Kromer hat on his head--and a Stormy Kromer pattern on his plow.

Osterbrink entered his wife, Kayla Cisler-Osterbrink, in a prize drawing from Stormy Kromer and BOSS Snowplow. Her entry won, and BOSS delivered the red plaid patterned snowplow on Friday in Mosinee.

"I was tapping maple trees, and my wife showed up and said I had some homework to do because she won the plow," Osterbrink said, remembering how he found out they won.

"The first thing I told her was, 'That's the last thing I need, more work to do.' She said, 'Well, I think you want to do this, because you just won the Stormy Kromer plow," Osterbrink said.

+ Read More

Play Video

WOODRUFF - Hunters can decide whether to keep their turkey or donate it to families in need.

The DNR started a turkey donation program last year with hopes of expanding it this spring.

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - When you grab a bowl out of your cupboard, it probably came from a big box store.

You won't find those at The Warehouse Art Center in Eagle River.

These are hand-thrown bowls made right in the ceramic studio.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Oneida County needs more foster care homes. Right now, there are nine licensed foster homes in the area, most of which are full according to the county's social services department. 

Foster Care Coordinator Rachel Nelson says that in Oneida County there are 24 children currently living in foster homes. The department participated in a statewide foster care recruitment project last fall, and discovered just how great the need is. 

+ Read More

MARATHON COUNTY - Police released the name of man found dead at a Marathon City motel last week. 

28-year-old Brian Kienast was reported missing from Adams County on November 22, 2017.

According to the press release, Kienast had been in Marathon City during the week of Thanksgiving. 

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office are asking people for information about Kienast. 

If anyone saw or had contact with Kienast since last November please contact the sheriff's office. 

You can submit a tip online or call 877-409-8777

+ Read More

LINCOLN COUNTY - Police in Lincoln County caught a woman driving the wrong way on Highway 51 near Irma.

People calling on cell phones reported the wrong way driver around 11:00 p.m. Saturday.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here