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Norman County deputy, shot during traffic stop, justified in firing weapon at suspect

Grand Forks Herald --A Norman County deputy shot during a traffic stop last month was justified in using deadly force, according to the Minnesota county attorney reviewing the case.

Norman County Deputy Nathan Warner was authorized to use deadly force during the April 15 traffic stop nearly Perley.

Steven Henderson, 19, faces four counts related to the traffic stop, including charges of first-degree attempted murder of a peace officer, bringing stolen goods into the state and two counts of receiving stolen property. He pleaded not guilty to the charges, which are all felonies.

Court papers state:

Henderson and his brother had just traveled from Oklahoma to Minnesota when they were pulled over Tuesday in a black Dodge pickup that Henderson had stolen the day before in Kansas or Nebraska. He had found a .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun inside the glove compartment.

The Norman County Sheriff’s Office received a report from someone saying the pickup was suspicious. The deputy found the truck, which had no license plates, and stopped it on County Road 39 near County Road 12. Henderson was driving, and his brother, William Henderson, was in the passenger seat

At the time, William Henderson, 18, had an arrest warrant for failing to appear in court on misdemeanor charges in Pennington County, so Warner placed him in the back seat of his squad car, according to the criminal complaint filed in the case.

The deputy returned to the pickup, and then headed back to his squad car. At that point, Steven Henderson opened fire with the handgun, the complaint states.

The first round hit the deputy, who was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, in the back, and another round struck his portable radio on the front of his vest. Warner grabbed his sidearm and returned fire but missed, the complaint said.

Steven Henderson drove off, and officers found him two hours later in woods near a vacant farmstead a few miles from the scene of the shooting.

“It is my opinion Deputy Warner was justified in the use of deadly force under the facts and circumstances in this case,” Mahnomen County Attorney Darlene Rivera Spalla wrote in a letter sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. “I see no violation of the deadly force statue by the deputy.”

The letter outlines three allowances for the use of deadly force by an on-duty deputy.