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Beltrami County deputy cleared in fatal shooting

By Crystal Dey / Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI, Minn. — A sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a Beltrami County man in a standoff in June has been cleared of any criminal charges.

The investigation into the standoff has concluded, and Beltrami County Attorney Timothy Faver submitted a letter to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension clearing the Beltrami County deputy.

“It is my conclusion that no criminal charges are warranted with respect to this matter,” Faver wrote.

On June 26, Beltrami County sheriff’s deputies were engaged in a standoff with Miquell “Mike” Deppa, 34, in Liberty Township north of Bemidji. Deppa was in possession of a rifle and threatening suicide, according to law enforcement. His mother and girlfriend had taken shelter in a bathroom inside the house.

The sheriff’s department had established several observation points around the residence. Gunshots were heard within the home, according to officials. Deputies continued communication efforts with Deppa, who said he would “shoot deputies if they did not back off,” according to Faver’s letter.

Deppa’s mother and girlfriend were able to leave the residence safely. After they left, Deppa shot toward the deputies, Faver’s letter said.

Deputy Jeff Roberts, a trained sniper assigned to the Headwaters Emergency Response Team, witnessed Deppa shooting toward the deputies, Faver said. As Deppa shouldered his rifle and aimed in the direction of other deputies, Roberts fired his rifle, striking Deppa, officials said. An autopsy revealed Deppa later died from the gunshot wound.

Peace officers are authorized by law to use deadly force to protect themselves or another individual from death or great bodily harm, Faver said.

“When Mr. Deppa then appeared in the doorway and raised his rifle to shoot, he presented a clear threat to the deputies and, in my mind, left Deputy Roberts with no choice but to shoot,” Faver wrote.

Following a mandatory, three-day administrative leave, Roberts was reinstated to active duty.

Faver’s determination in the case did not come as a surprise to Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp.

“It’s exactly what I expected based on the investigation,” Hodapp said.

Hodapp was not at the scene, but he had spoken with BCA investigators, his chief deputy and others who witnessed the incident. The investigation, pending toxicology results, was wrapped up in about a day.

“You have to understand, it’s hard for everybody involved,” Hodapp said. “The family has been very cooperative.”

In a letter to the editor published in the Bemidji Pioneer soon after the incident, Deppa’s parents, Jeff and Deb Deppa, wrote:

“We were there the night of the incident and heard, and probably will always hear the final shot. …Our only hope is that in this tragedy, all entities involved learn something that might help prevent another family from having to endure this horrific pain. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the officer and his family and we wish them no ill will.”

The Deppa family could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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