District attorney: Officer use of force justified in shooting that killed suspect in Menomonie

An investigation into the fatal shooting of an armed suspect by Wisconsin law enforcement officers in January found their use of force was a “reasonable act of self-defense,” Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf announced Thursday.

Nicholas Ciccarelli, 45, was shot and killed in Menomonie the night of Jan. 21 after he allegedly threatened a man with a gun, stole his car and then, when stopped by police, approached officers with a revolver in his hand. Dunn County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Blum, Menomonie Police Officer Tyson Kahl and Menomonie Police Lt. Michael Sampson all fired at him during the encounter.

In a news release, Nodolf said Ciccarelli was driving erratically around the neighborhood after he stole the car, and officers “quickly secured the scene in order to protect innocent bystanders.” Once he was stopped, Ciccarelli did not comply with law enforcement as they tried to take him into custody.

Ciccarelli got out of the car and ignored commands from Deputy Blum, who was shouting, “Get on the ground,” the release states. Instead, Ciccarelli walked “directly” toward Blum and said, “Do it then.” When Blum saw a gun in Ciccarelli’s hand — later found to be a .357 magnum revolver that was cocked and ready to shoot — he fired. Lt. Sampson then yelled, “Gun,” and he and Officer Kahl fired at Ciccarelli almost simultaneously.

The officers gave first aid, but Ciccarelli was pronounced dead at the scene.

Another gun and 17 grams of methamphetamine were found inside the stolen car, according to Nodolf. A toxicology screening found Ciccarelli tested positive for “a high level of methamphetamine.”

“While the death of Nicholas Ciccarelli is tragic, based on his statements and actions that night, these officers were left with no other choice, likely in part due to the very high level of methamphetamine in his blood,” Nodolf wrote.