U.S. Attorney's Office
District of North Dakota
(701) 297-7400
October 20, 2015

Spirit Lake Officer Legally Justified in Shooting Death

FARGO, ND—U.S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers announced that on Oct. 20, 2015, The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota has reviewed all of the investigative reports, interviews, the final autopsy report and photos relating to the shooting of Joseph Charboneau, 31, by Bureau of Indian Affairs Officer Terry Morgan on June 16, 2015, which was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This Office has concluded that Officer Morgan was legally justified when he shot and killed Mr. Charboneau.

According to the investigative reports, while officers were searching 7141 Crow Hill Road in Fort Totten, ND, to serve a warrant for another individual in the residence, Charboneau was located in the living room under a blanket and was holding a loaded firearm. Charboneau also grabbed a blow torch during a brief standoff with officers. After refusing to comply with several orders to drop the weapon, the deceased was shot by one of the law enforcement officers, Officer Morgan, at the scene. Charboneau posed a real and immediate threat to not only Officer Morgan, but also to a number of other officers at the scene as well as to another individual within the residence. Officer Morgan, confronted with an individual holding a firearm, at close range, and refusing to comply with orders to drop the weapon, was reasonable in his use of deadly force because Mr. Charboneau posed an immediate and continuing threat to the officers and others. The threat of death was real and had not abated. As Mr. Charboneau posed a significant threat of death or serious injury to the officers and the other individual within the residence, his use of deadly force was legally justified.

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