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Charges not warranted in deadly July shooting by Olivia cop

The Blue Earth County Attorney's Office recommends no charges be filed against an Olivia police officer who shot and killed a man during an early morning encounter July 4 in Olivia.

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A memorial is shown Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Olivia near the location where a man was fatally shot Sunday by an Olivia police officer. Family and friends have identified the man who was killed as Ricardo Torres Jr. Tim Speier / West Central Tribune

OLIVIA — The Blue Earth County Attorney's Office is not recommending charges for an Oliva Police Department officer who shot and killed a man during an early morning July 4 altercation in an Olivia alleyway.

According to a report submitted to the Renville County Attorney's Office , Office Aaron Clouse "acted within the law in his use of deadly force," against Ricardo Torres Jr. Torres Jr. died later that morning from gunshot wounds suffered during the incident.

The Renville County Attorney's Office, where Olivia is located, asked the Blue Earth County Attorney's Office to review the incident for criminal charges due to a perceived conflict of interest.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was the investigating agency.

While the report concludes that criminal charges are not warranted, Blue Earth County Attorney Patrick McDermott wrote that his review does not include whether Clouse's actions violated department policies or other civil or regulatory standards.

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According to the report, Clouse fired four rounds at Torres Jr., hitting him three times, after Torres Jr. pointed a shotgun at the officer in an Oliva alleyway. No video of the incident is available but Clouse did start recording from his squad vehicle after the shooting.

Multiple witnesses told investigators that Torres Jr. was increasingly agitated in the days and hours leading up to his death. Those same witnesses said Torres Jr. had shown them the shotgun, along with the shells, in the days and hours leading up to the incident.

One witness, described in the report as someone who was seeing Torres Jr., said he threatened her with the shotgun after she declined to be intimate with him.

The same witness told investigators that Torres Jr. had spoke about his intentions to find Clouse for several days prior to the fatal shooting and that he was afraid he would face prison time for an earlier domestic incident that Clouse had arrested him for.

Another witness, described as the last person to see Torres Jr. that night, told investigators that she tried to hide the shotgun from him. He became visibly angry, she told investigators, when she would not give him the weapon. He eventually found the shotgun, according to the witness, and left.

The witness told investigators that she thought Torres Jr. was under the influence of something.

The Midwest Medical Examiner's Office found methamphetamine, amphetamine and Delta-9 THC in his blood following an autopsy and drug screening. The death was classified as a homicide due to gunshot wounds of the torso.

The report submitted by Blue Earth County Attorney Patrick McDermott is the first detailed narrative authorities have released about the deadly encounter.

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Blue Earth County Attorney Letter by Mark Wasson on Scribd

Around 2:21 a.m. July 4, Clouse was in an alleyway by the 800 block of Lincoln Avenue mounting a trail camera for investigation in graffiti and vandalism when he called in a report of "shots fired."

According to the report, Clouse encountered Torres Jr. holding a sawed-off shotgun in the alleyway. Torres Jr. was legally prohibited from using firearms because of a previous felony conviction.

Clouse told Torres Jr. to drop the firearm, to which Torres Jr. raised the shotgun and pointed it at Clouse and told him "You drop the gun."

Clouse then fired four rounds from his service weapon, a Glock 9 mm.

Torres Jr. reportedly said "You popped me," before falling to the ground while still holding the weapon.

Responding law enforcement arrived to see Torres Jr. laying on the ground with a Coast to Coast 12-gauge shotgun in his hand.

Clouse told responding officers that Torres Jr. had pointed the shotgun at him.

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Medical aid was rendered to Torres Jr. on scene until he was transported to the Olivia Hospital and Clinic by ambulance around 2:44 a.m. He was pronounced deceased at the hospital.

Investigators found Torres Jr.'s blood on the shotgun, along with two shotgun slugs at the scene.

Clouse would tell investigators the encounter lasted ten seconds or less.

In his report, Mcdermott wrote that Clouse use of deadly force was "reasonable and justified" based on the investigative materials.

Mark Wasson has been a public safety reporter with Post Bulletin since May 2022. Previously, he worked as a general assignment reporter in the southwest metro and as a public safety reporter in Willmar, Minn. Readers can reach Mark at mwasson@postbulletin.com.
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