KAUKAUNA — Outagamie County District Attorney Melinda Tempelis has concluded that a Kaukauna police officer was justified when he shot a suspect in the shoulder Sept. 13 while responding to a report of man with two juvenile girls in a stolen vehicle.
Sgt. Michael Frank, a 25-year veteran of the Kaukauna Police Department, was reasonable in his belief that he and others in the area were in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm when the operator refused to follow officer commands and accelerated the vehicle in reverse at a high rate of speed striking Frank and risking the safety of others in the area, according to the D.A.
The report concludes the Appleton Police Department’s investigation of the incident, according to a news release.
According to Appleton police investigators:
Frank and other officers working for the Kaukauna Police Department were given information about an adult male who was driving a stolen vehicle that was reported to have two juvenile females as occupants and the information provided stated the male driver had eluded other officers and agencies on a high-speed chase on the night of Sept. 12, 2023.
On Sept. 13, 2023, the Green Bay Police Department requested the assistance of the Kaukauna Police Department after receiving information that a juvenile runaway from their jurisdiction would be arriving at an address in the 500 block of Diedrich Street in a red stolen Pontiac Sunfire.
Kaukauna Police made contact with the juvenile runaway’s mother at the address on Diedrich Street and confirmed the stolen Sunfire was expected to arrive at the residence a short time later.
The officers on scene shared this information with other officers, including Sgt. Frank. Based on the information provided to them a plan was developed to have the stolen vehicle pull into the third garage stall at the residence and then officers would contact the vehicle and occupants.
Officers articulated they wanted to ensure that the vehicle was off the roadway to prevent a high-speed chase as well to provide an opportunity to contact the driver before the garage door could be closed which could create a hostage or standoff incident.
When the vehicle arrived and entered the garage and the vehicles lights turned off. Sgt. Frank positioned his marked patrol vehicle behind the stolen vehicle and positioned himself at the threshold of the open overhead garage door.
Sgt. Frank began yelling commands for the vehicle to stop. Simultaneously there were emergency lights flashing in the area from multiple Kaukauna squad cars that had converged on the residence. Within approximately three seconds the stolen vehicles lights turned on and the vehicle exited the garage at a high rate of speed.
Fearing for his safety, as well as the safety of other officers responding behind him, Sgt. Frank fired one round at the driver.
The vehicle came to a stop second later partially in the terrace and roadway adjacent to the residence.
Recognizing the vehicle was no longer a threat, Sgt. Frank and other officers immediately returned to the vehicle, contacted the occupants inside, and began rendering aid to the driver who had been shot in the shoulder area.
The two juvenile female occupants were secured, and officers determined no other injuries occurred as a result of the incident. At some point during the incident, Sgt. Frank’s arm and squad was struck by the stolen vehicle when it exited the garage.
The scene was secured, and the male driver was transported to a local hospital for treatment. The Kaukauna Police Department then requested the assistance of the Appleton Police Department to conduct an independent investigation into the incident.