No charges filed in December Austin officer-involved shooting
(ABC 6 News) – No charges will be filed in the Dec. 23 shooting death of Kokou Christopher Fiafonou, according to Austin Police Chief David McKichan.
Kokou Christopher Fiafonou, 38, of Austin, died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds on Dec. 23, 2021. His death was ruled a homicide. Two-year Austin PD officer Zachary Gast was identified as the officer who fired his weapon. He was placed on administrative leave in 2021.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated the incident and turned its findings over to Mower County for review. The Mower County attorney’s office referred the case to the Olmsted County attorney’s office to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.
Olmsted County Attorney Mark A. Ostrem found, in a letter embeded in full below, that the evidence did not support criminal charges against any officers involved in the shooting, including Zachary Gast.
In order to bring charges against a police officer, Ostrem wrote, the state must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the use of deadly force was not justified.
In December of 2021, Austin police reported a 24-hour standoff with Fiafonou at an Austin home, during which they believed he was having a mental health crisis.
After Fiafonou left the home, he went to a nearby Kwik Trip where officers said he confronted them with a knife.
According to police testimony and video footage from the area, Fiafonou "aggresively ran toward" Gast holding the knife. Gast shot at Fiafonou seven times. He died on the scene.
Ostrem concluded that a reasonable police officer in Gast’s position would have concluded that deadly force was necessary to protect himself or others from harm.
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