OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — The Winnebago County District Attorney's Office determined an Oshkosh officer was justified in shooting an armed, intoxicated man at a boat landing last month.
Police were called to a boat launch on Mill Street in Oshkosh on June 29 at 6:18 a.m. for the report of an intoxicated male walking around carrying a loaded rife.
When arriving on scene, officers began talking with the male, who was identified as 34-year-old Benson Thao, to de-escalate the situation and try to get Thao to put down the rifle.
Officers attempted to use less lethal rounds when Thao refused to put down the rifle and started to point it at officers. It was then an officer fired his duty-issued rifle, striking Thao, authorities report.
Thao was taken to the hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The Oshkosh Police Department made a request to the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office to conduct an independent investigation of the incident. After review, Winnebago County District Attorney Eric Sparr found Thao presented a "significant risk to the life and safety of the officer at the time of the shooting and that the evidence was clear that the suspect [Thao] was armed with a loaded rifle and began moving closer to officers in a way that would reasonably cause them concern that the suspect [Thao] intended to shoot them or others. This act reasonably put the officer in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm and his use of force was justified."
On July 5, Thao was charged with first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
Due to victim rights obligations, the name of the involved officer is not being released at this time.