DA: Officer acted in self defense in Sept. 13 Loyal shooting
The Clark County District Attorney’s Office has reviewed the investigation into the fatal shooting of Robert E. Domine on Sept. 13 in the city of Loyal and determined that the actions of Marathon County Sheriff’s Deputy Russell Gage were a reasonable act of selfdefense. As a consequence, Gage will not be charged with any criminal offenses in connection with the incident.
District Attorney Kerra Stumbris released the findings of her review on Oct. 25. In a statement released to the media, she said Gage’s actions on Sept. 13 were in self defense and taken after Domine shot at police officers at two separate times during the stand-off.
Under Wisconsin law, Stumbris said, any person, including a police officer, is allowed to use deadly force in an act of self-defense if the person reasonably believed that he or she faced an unlawful interference that created a risk of death or great bodily harm to themselves or others. If, as in this case, the person’s actions are privileged under the law of self-defense, he or she cannot be convicted of any crime.
On Sept. 11, at approximately 4:50 p.m., city of Loyal police officer Jacob Schar attempted a traffic stop on a vehicle in the city. Schar recognized the operator of the vehicle as 77-year-old Robert E. Domine and was aware of an active warrant for Domine’s arrest out of Taylor County. Schar activated his emergency lights and blocked the roadway, but Domine ignored Schar’s commands, drove around the squad car, and accelerated past Schar at a high rate of speed.
Schar pursued Domine’s vehicle and was joined in the pursuit by officers from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. The pursuit continued on rural roads and highways through Clark County, with Domine reaching and maintaining speeds between 80 and 100 miles per hour. During the pursuit, Domine pointed a handgun through the rear sliding window of his truck at Clark County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Wade Hebert, who was leading the pursuit at that time. Domine was subject to a court order in his pending Taylor County case indicating he was not to be in possession of any firearms. Domine’s vehicle eventually entered and became stuck in a swampy area in the town of Sherwood in the southeastern corner of the county. Domine fled on foot into a wooded area, where law enforcement officers searched but were unable to locate him. On Sept. 12, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office was notified that Domine had returned to his home on East Mill Street in the city of Loyal. The Clark County Emergency Response Team (ERT) responded to the area. Officers made telephone contact with Domine, hoping to convince him to turn himself in. Domine had barricaded himself in his home and informed officers he had multiple firearms in the residence. Multiple officers worked to negotiate a peaceful resolution for more than six hours, but as Domine continued to refuse to surrender on his own, law enforcement began implementing alternative tactical options.
At approximately 10:11 p.m., the Clark County ERT attempted to enter the residence through a door on the back side of the attached garage. Domine fired two shots through the door at the officers, with one striking Hebert in his ballistics vest. Hebert was transported to the hospital. Assistance was requested from additional tactical
DEAN LESAR/TRG FILE PHOTO teams from the Marathon County Sheriff’s Office, Marshfield Police Department, and Eau Claire County Regional SWAT. The Marathon County SWAT team used an armored vehicle to damage the front window of the residence to gain entry.
On Sept. 13, at approximately 1:50 a.m., announcements were made to Domine requesting his surrender. Domine fired at least three shots at the Marathon County SWAT team and the armored vehicle, striking the windshield directly in front of the driver’s head area. Gage returned fire from the armed vehicle, striking Domine three times. A robot from the Marathon County bomb squad was used to clear the residence and a suspected booby trap near an entryway before officers entered the residence. Multiple firearms were located within the home as well as on and near Domine. Domine was pronounced dead at the scene.
An autopsy of Domine was conducted at the Dane County Medical Examiner’s office in McFarland on Sept. 13 by Dr. Eli Goodman. The autopsy revealed multiple gunshot wounds to Domine’s torso and limbs and a bullet fragment in his scalp. Dr. Goodman’s preliminary findings indicate Domine died as a result of the firearm injuries sustained during the confrontation with law enforcement.
Stumbris said her review concludes that “Gage was reasonable in his belief that he and other officers were in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm due to the suspect’s actions of firing a gun at officers at two points during the standoff. Gage’s use of deadly force under the circumstances was reasonable and, therefore, privileged under Wisconsin law.”
The investigation was completed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation with some assistance from the Wisconsin State Patrol. Although the District Attorney’s Office is still awaiting the final autopsy report, toxicology results, and reports from the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, it does not appear there would be any additional information within those reports that would change the analysis of the District Attorney’s Office regarding the actions of the officer as it relates to the use of deadly force.