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Federal court decision favors Litchfield, Minn., officer in 2009 shooting

LITCHFIELD -- The U.S. District Court has found in favor of the city of Litchfield and Police Officer Travis Rueckert in a lawsuit filed by a Litchfield man whom Rueckert shot during an incident in March 2009.

The federal court's decision, handed down on Thursday, grants a motion for summary judgment sought by the city and Rueckert and dismisses the case with prejudice. Cassidy Jared Loch and his wife, Saara Loch, filed the suit after the March 15, 2009, incident in which Cassidy Loch was shot eight times by Rueckert.

According to the decision, Loch had been drinking at a party, retrieved a handgun, backed his pickup into another vehicle and then got the vehicle stuck in a snowbank and against a tree before relatives called 911. Officer Rueckert arrived, was informed that Loch had a gun, even though the weapon had been thrown out of Loch's vehicle, and ordered Loch and others to the ground. Loch didn't comply with the order and instead moved toward the officer and moved his hand toward something black on his hip. The officer fired 11 times, striking Loch with eight bullets. Loch was taken to Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield and then airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis for treatment of his injuries.

Rueckert and other officers, including Police Chief Patrick Fank, later found a .45-caliber handgun in the snow near the driver's side of the pickup. It was later revealed that the black thing on Loch's hip was a cell phone and case.

Loch was charged in July 2009 in Meeker County District Court with fourth-degree assault of a peace officer, plus driving while impaired, reckless handling of a gun and carrying a pistol under the influence. He was sentenced in February 2010 to 180 days of house arrest and alcohol monitoring, 7 years and 8 months of probation and a $500 fine on a gross misdemeanor for driving while impaired and a misdemeanor for carrying a pistol under the influence. He was also ordered to complete chemical dependency and psychological treatment.

Also in July 2009, a Meeker County grand jury found no probable cause for charges against Rueckert in the incident.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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