Duluth police officer placed ‘off duty indefinitely’ after shooting through door

Katie Galioto
Star Tribune

Duluth, Minn. – A police officer was placed “off duty indefinitely” after he shot an unarmed man through an apartment door in September, the department said Wednesday after completing an investigation.

Tyler Leibfried, 28, faces two felony charges for firing at a closed door while responding to a call about a domestic argument. According to charges, Leibfried heard a loud noise he thought to be gunfire before shooting six bullets, wounding 23-year-old Jared Fyle inside the unit.

Police line tape.

“We believe that Officer Leibfried’s actions were contrary to Duluth Police Department policies and training guiding use of force,” the department said in a statement.

Paul Engh, Leibfried’s attorney, said the officer “is still being paid as of right now.”

City and Police Department representatives declined to answer questions about Leibfried’s pay or benefits, citing data privacy laws.

“I am aware of the process to review the incident involving Mr. Leibfried and support the Duluth Police Department’s efforts to address it as appropriate,” Duluth’s Chief Administrative Officer Noah Schuchman said in a statement. “As with other personnel matters, and pursuant to Minnesota state statute, I am unable to provide further comment at this time.”

Dan Boese, president of the Duluth police union, did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Leibfried made his initial appearance in St. Louis County Court via webcam on Wednesday. Engh told Judge Sally Tarnowski he plans to file a motion to dismiss both felony charges before Leibfried’s next court appearance on Jan. 8.

“We believe that the Supreme Court case law interpreting what a police officer can do holds that Officer Leibfried’s conduct was legal and appropriate,” Engh said in an interview Wednesday evening.

St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin said to his knowledge, this is the first time his office is pursuing criminal charges against an officer for a shooting.

The charges against Leibfried – intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety and reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality – are each punishable by up to two years in prison and a maximum $5,000 fine.

The Duluth Police Department said it consulted the criminal charges and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s investigation when determining how to handle the incident internally. Leibfried was on paid administrative leave for the duration of this process.

In 2017, the Duluth Police Department fired an officer for dragging a handcuffed man through the city’s skywalk. That officer was reinstated later after a labor arbitrator – who has binding power to settle the dispute under the collective bargaining agreement between the city and the police union – ruled that the officer’s conduct warranted discipline but not dismissal. Courts ruled against the city when it challenged the arbitrator’s decision.