Matthew Smith photo JP Cola

(Willmar MN-)  The Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office has determined the shooting of a Willmar man in his backyard by two Willmar Police Officers last summer was justified, and the man who was shot now faces criminal charges. 46-year-old Matthew Smith was arraigned in Kandiyohi County District Court Tuesday morning on two charges of 2nd-Degree Assault-Fear and a count of Threats of Violence. On July 23rd last year Willmar Police Officers Anthony Haycraft and Marco Vazquez were dispatched to Smith's northwest side house on the report of a suicidal and intoxicated man with a gun. Smith's wife said he had been depressed and had been drinking beer. When they arrived, they found Smith sitting in a lawn chair, and he reportedly pointed a small handgun at both officers. A police squad car camera recorded the officers telling Smith to drop the gun before Haycraft shot him once and Vazquez shot him twice. He was arrested and given first aid, then taken to the hospital where he has recovered. Blood tests showed Smith's blood alcohol level at .279, and there were no traces of alcohol or drugs in either of the officers' blood. In the criminal complaint, both officers said they feared for their lives before shooting Smith, and Kandiyohi County Attorney Shane Baker says he believes the use of deadly force was justified and the officers will not face any charges. Haycraft and Vazquez were briefly placed on paid administrative leave right after the shooting while the BCA conducted the investigation, and then were returned to active duty.

At his arraignment before Judge Michael Thompson, Smith appeared in a wheelchair, represented by Carter Greiner from the public defenders's office. Kristin Pierce from the Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office cited the seriousness of the charges and asked for unconditional bail to be set at $50,000. Greiner argued Smith has cooperated with the investigation every step of the way and hasn't drank a drop of alcohol since the shooting last July. He is unemployed and confined to a wheelchair and has other medical needs stemming from the shooting that might be hard for the jail to handle. The judge released Smith on his own recognizance on the condition he stay alcohol free and take his medications for mental illness. He is not to possess any weapons or ammo, and must stay in contact with court officials. His next court appearance, an omnibus hearing, was set for April 18th at 1:15 p.m.