Walworth County District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld has determined two deputies who shot at a Whitewater man acted in self-defense and in the defense of others.
Deputies Wayne Blanchard and Peter Krueger have returned to full duty after having been placed on administrative leave, according to a news release.
The man who was shot, Christopher P. Czerpak, 33, of W8165 Nature Drive, rural Whitewater, has been charged with three counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety after an investigation of the July 20 incident, according to the release.
Those charges were added to Czerpak’s existing charges of burglary, possession of a firearm by a felon and criminal damage to property, which resulted from the incident.
The deputies will not be charged, according to a letter dated Wednesday from Wiedenfeld to Sheriff Kurt Picknell.
“Deputy Krueger and Deputy Blanchard were justified in using potentially lethal force to stop Mr. Czerpak from harming himself, law enforcement officers and other citizens in the area,” Wiedenfeld said in his letter. “I do not believe that a reasonable jury could reach a different conclusion.”
Czerpak was struck in the arm and shoulder. Wiedenfeld’s letter says both deputies discharged their weapons but did not say which bullets or how many bullets hit Czerpak.
Czerpak survived the shooting. Neither the letter nor the news release details his current medical condition.
Wiedenfeld’s letter says law enforcement officers provided “life-saving” treatment to stop bleeding at the scene.
Authorities said deputies joined Whitewater and UW-Whitewater police on July 20 in a search for Czerpak, who was accused of making statements about killing his estranged wife and then killing himself with a gun.
Wiedenfeld’s letter details the events that led to the shooting:
Whitewater police at 6:52 p.m. July 19 responded to a call on Fraternity Lane in Whitewater, where a woman said Czerpak had been at the residence and talked about killing himself and the woman.
The woman told police Czerpak, who was on supervision for previous domestic violence and intoxicated driving convictions, mentioned getting a firearm from his brother.
At 9:19 p.m., police were called to the residence again because the woman said Czerpak had returned and demanded to be let in. Sheriff’s deputies were sent to assist police.
Officers learned Czerpak’s brother’s handgun was missing.
The woman called police at 3:30 a.m. July 20, saying Czerpak had kicked in the door to her residence and entered, saying something like “Where are you, b----.” Czerpak ran out of the residence when police arrived.
Officers found 9 mm rounds at the residence, which were consistent with Czerpak’s brother’s missing firearm and ammunition.
At 5:25 a.m., Czerpak’s vehicle was found parked a few blocks away from the woman’s home. An officer saw a man standing in a doorway of a nearby apartment building, and the man later was identified as Czerpak.
Czerpak ran into the basement as police approached and then fled from the building. Body camera footage shows Czerpak carrying a handgun as he ran.
Krueger and Blanchard were standing outside as Czerpak ran toward law enforcement officers, failing to stop after being commanded by officers to do so.
Czerpak pointed the gun toward officers in a “sweeping motion,” and then Krueger and Blanchard shot at him, according to Wiedenfeld’s letter.
Blanchard has worked for the sheriff’s office for 19 years and Krueger for 2½ years.
Blanchard shot a man while on duty in 2012.
John W. Brown, 22, who had bipolar disorder and was thought to be suicidal, died in the 2012 incident.
Blanchard said Brown had approached deputies with a knife.
Brown’s mother received a $1.1 million settlement from the county. As part of the settlement, the county and Blanchard denied misconduct.
A Walworth County court commissioner Monday found probable cause that Czerpak committed a felony and set arraignment for Tuesday, Sept. 1.