JEFFERSON — No charges will be filed against Wisconsin State Patrol officers involved in the deadly shooting of a Monona bank robbery suspect Dec. 9, 2020 after a high-speed chase that reached 100 mph starting near Ebenezer Road south of Watertown and moving south on State Highway 26, ending at Highway 12 near Fort Atkinson.
Jefferson County District Attorney Monica Hall announced late Tuesday afternoon that the actions of law enforcement officers that day were lawful and reasonable acts of self defense and the protection of others.
“Therefore, there will be no criminal charges filed in relation to the incident resulting in the death of Joseph R. Crawford-Lamal (at the Highway 26/12 intersection),” Hall said.
The incident left Crawford-Lamal dead and his passenger, Desmond Watkins, 22, in custody following a shootout with police.
Both men were identified as suspects in a bank robbery in Monona earlier on Dec. 9, 2020. State police did not know the men were suspects in the bank robbery when they tried to stop the vehicle.
The high-speed chase began at approximately 12:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 2020 when a Wisconsin State Patrol Officer attempted to stop the suspects’ vehicle for speeding at 83 mph in 65 mph zone on State Highway 26 between Watertown and Johnson Creek, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
The trooper who made the initial stop said something did not look right about the suspects as they were moving around inside the vehicle after the stop. The brake lights on their vehicle were also going on and off. The vehicle, driven by Crawford-Lamal then pulled away at a high rate of speed.
Traveling at what law enforcement officers estimated to be about 100 mph, the vehicle approached Interstate 94 at Johnson Creek where an officer had placed a tire-deflation device. Crawford-Lamal managed to avoid it but hit another placed further along the highway in Johnson Creek. After the vehicle stopped, Watkins exited it with his hands up and was later arrested. Crawford-Lamal drove away on shredded tires.
He continued southbound along Highway 26 toward Fort Atkinson shooting out his window at law enforcement occasionally. A spent shell casing was found in the Highway 26 business district of Johnson Creek. Crawford-Lamal also shot at a law enforcement officer near Johnson Creek Elementary School.
Crawford-Lamal continued south when road spikes were again deployed by officers and his tires shredded.
His vehicle eventually exited Highway 26 at U.S. Highway 12 and came to a stop in the median.
Crawford-Lamal left the vehicle with a handgun and attempted to carjack a civilian motorist nearby, who later said Crawford-Lamal had held a gun to his head.
Three Wisconsin State Patrol Troopers discharged their weapons and at least one bullet struck Crawford-Lamal. A recording of the incident indicated there may have been seven shots fired by law enforcement.
Officers began life-saving measures, but Crawford-Lamal died at the scene.
No law enforcement personnel or other involved individuals were injured during the incident, which shut down Highway 12 for hours Dec. 9.
The Division of Criminal Investigation led the subsequent investigation into officer conduct and was assisted by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory and the DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services.
“Wisconsin law allows all persons, including police officers, to use deadly force in an act of self-defense or defense of others if the person reasonably believes that he or another person faces an unlawful interference that creates a risk of death or great bodily harm,” Hall said. “If, as here, the person’s actions are privileged under the law of self-defense/defense of others, they cannot be convicted of any crime.”
Reports, audio recordings and video evidence from the DCI, Wisconsin State Patrol, Fort Atkinson Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office were provided to her office for review, Hall said.
“After consideration of the evidence provided in this case and the circumstances surrounding the incident, I found there is no evidence that a crime was committed by any law enforcement officer in this case,” Hall said.