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Deputy cleared in hospital shooting

March 22, 2013 | 10:39 AM
ELKHORN — A Walworth County Sheriff's deputy has been cleared of any wrong doing after he fatally shot an inmate at Aurora Lakeland Medical Center.

On Jan. 21, Deputy Robert Lagle was guarding 18-year-old Alfredo Villarreal as he was receiving treatment at the hospital.

At about 6 p.m., Lagle removed Villarreal's shackles to allow him to use the restroom. After using the restroom, Lagle attempted to place a shackle back on Villarreal's left leg, and, as he was attempting to do this, Villarreal kicked Lagle in the face with his right shin. A struggle ensued and eventually Lagle shot and killed Villarreal.

This morning, March 22, Walworth County District Attorney Dan Necci released his findings that the shooting was "privileged as acts of defense of himself or others."

"I believe that there is no other logical conclusion that can be drawn from the evidence other than that Deputy Lagle was attempting to prevent himself and others from being attacked with potentially deadly force and, therefore, Deputy Lagle was justified in using deadly force in response," Necci wrote. "I further believe that no reasonable juror could conclude otherwise, and, as such, I do not believe that an inquest is necessary in this case."

In making his determination, Necci reviewed "all available evidence regarding this case." Necci wrote that he reviewed all the photographs, footage taken from surveillance cameras at both the jail and hospital and, on the night of the shooting, he personally went to the scene with Waukesha County detectives.

"As I mentioned earlier, January 21, 2013, was a tragic day for our county. A deputy sheriff was brutally attacked and forced to utilize his firearm in defense, a young man lost his life, and, as result, family and friends of law enforcement personnel and Mr. Villarreal, in our county and beyond, suffer from fear, anxiety and grief," Necci wrote. "I know that you will join me in praying for all involved or affected."

Click Here to read Necci's letter.

Leading up to the shooting

On Jan. 19, Villarreal was allegedly involved in a drive-by shooting on Hartwell Street, Elkhorn. Three others have been charged in connection with that shooting. Assistant District Attorney Haley Rea said had Villarreal been alive he would have also been charged.

Villarreal was taken into custody after the shooting, and on Jan. 21, at about 3:30 a.m., Villarreal was found face-down in his cell by jail staff. After regaining consciousness, Villarreal said he had used the toilet, turned away and collapsed.

What caused Villarreal to collapse may remain a mystery. On Friday morning, Necci said "It didn't appear to be investigated," in the autopsy. He also said he doesn't believe the staff at the hospital had made a diagnose prior to Villarreal's death.

At the hospital, in room 222, Lagle was guarding Villarreal, and allowed him to use the bathroom. Lagle was kicked in the face while attempting to place the shackles back on Villarreal. The autopsy revealed that Villarreal's right shin had a contusion, Necci's wrote.

Villarreal repeatedly punched Lagle in the head. Necci said he didn't review specific medical records that showed the diagnose of Lagle's injuries. However, Necci said he reviewed photos of Lagle after the incident.

"I know that I saw, in the course of my evidence, photos of Deputy Lagle literally covered in his own blood," Necci said. "He had two black eyes. He had clearly suffered a substantial facial injury, several substantial facial injuries."

Lagle attempted to use his Taser to stop Villarreal, but the end of his Taser fell off. As the assaulted continued, Lagle attempted to retrieve and reattach his Taser.

After being injured, Lagle had difficulty breathing because of the blood running into his throat and Lagle thought he may pass out, according to Necci's letter.

The struggle between Lagle and Villarreal entered the hallway and Villarreal ran back into the hospital room and shut the door behind him. Lagle heard a loud banging from within the room and drew his weapon.

When Lagle re-entered the room, Villarreal was attempting to break the hospital window with a chair, and he had cracked the window. Villarreal was ordered by Lagle to drop the chair, but he refused and responded with a profanity and "I'm not going back to jail."

Villarreal then charged Lagle with the chair and came within several feet of him.

"Mr. Villarreal looked around the room, then looked at and squared his body toward Deputy Lagle," Necci wrote. "At this point, Deputy Lagle, fearing for his safety and the safety of others in the hospital, fired his weapon."

Lagle fired his weapon five times. The autopsy revealed Villarreal was shot three times in the torso, he suffered from one "tangential wound to the top of his head" and another bullet grazed "his third and fourth fingers on his right hand."

Other officers arrived quickly and attempted to perform lifesaving techniques on Villarreal, but he died at the scene.

On Friday morning, Necci said during the course of his investigation he saw no evidence to indicate that the shooting wasn't privileged.

"I found absolutely nothing in my review of the evidence to waver on that decision," Necci said. "It was crystal clear in my mind."

Read next week's Regional News for more on this story.


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