New Berlin police officer cleared in June fatal shooting
NEW BERLIN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Waukesha County district attorney cleared a New Berlin police officer for shooting a man in a church parking lot back in June.
The man was carrying a pellet gun with a scope on it, but the officer could only tell it was a rifle being pointed at him.
At 10 p.m. on June 22, New Berlin Police Officer Richard Helm was parked in the lot of the Crossroads Community Church while doing some paperwork.
A 911 call came in reporting a man carrying a gun in the very same lot.
"Nine-one-one, what's the address of your emergency?" said the dispatcher.
"Yeah, Crossroads Church, there's some guy walking around the parking lot with a rifle," said the caller.
That call came in as Officer Richard Helm worked on his computer, parked in the same lot. Dispatch came over the radio immediately.
"There's a single person walking around possibly with a long gun," said the dispatcher.
Helm told investigators he looked up and saw that man approaching his car with a rifle. He got out to take cover, aware his car door and bullet resistant vest wouldn't stop a rifle round.
"Well you better get here pretty quick," said the caller.
Helm told investigators the man steadily walked toward him and began repeatedly pointing the rifle at him. He yelled "Stop, police!" but the man kept coming. Helm opened fire.
"Do you see the officer?" asked the dispatcher.
Gunshots rang out.
"Sir?" asked the dispatcher.
It turns out the 911 caller was the man with the rifle, Michael Wolski.
Investigators later learned from his parents he had threatened to kill himself that day. He had been out of work for some time and was abusing drugs and alcohol.
The rifle turned out to be a pellet gun with a scope mounted on it, but surveillance video showed how dark the parking lot was that night. After the shooting, Helm radioed for other officers to gain control of the scene.
"He was walking up on me in the parking lot, shots fired, suspect down," said Helm.
Wolski died in the hospital 10 days later.
Helm has been with the New Berlin Police Department for 20 years. He also teaches de-escalation and other police courses at MATC.