The 24-year-old man shot by two deputies from the Eau Claire County sheriff’s office last summer after he pointed a gun at them said he wished they would have shot him in the head.
However, Reese A. Diesterhaft, who reportedly was wounded in the abdomen and arm, was heard saying after the shooting that he had no intentions to hurt deputies, according to information released Monday by Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King. He just didn’t want to go back to prison.
King, after reviewing an investigation of the shooting by the Eau Claire Police Department, found Deputies James Haworth and Dan Eaton were justified in their use of force.
“The totality of the conduct displayed by Reese Diesterhaft toward law enforcement on Aug. 7. 2018, rightly caused law enforcement (officers) to fear for their lives,” King said in his written determination, released Monday.
Haworth has been employed by the sheriff’s office since 1995, and Eaton joined the department in April 2017. Both men told investigators they feared for their lives on Aug. 7, 2018.
According to information released by King:
Diesterhaft had two outstanding warrants for his arrest – one from Dunn County and the other from South Dakota, where he recently had been released from prison and had absconded from supervision.
Interviewed after the shooting at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, Diesterhaft told investigators he was “on the run from South Dakota.” He said he wanted to visit his family and was thinking about going to his dad’s house, grabbing one of his guns and shooting himself.
Instead, he said he did “something stupid to get the cops called” on him.
That day the Dunn County sheriff’s office received a report of a male harassing a female in the town of Rock Creek. After a deputy made contact with the male – Diesterhaft – a short time later in Caryville, Diesterhaft abruptly left the scene in his vehicle at a high rate of speed.
The pursuit on Highway 85 was near the Eau Claire-Dunn County line, and Haworth, Eaton and other Eau Claire County sheriff’s office personnel responded to assist.
During the pursuit, Diesterhaft displayed a gun, and deputies lost sight of his vehicle in Eau Claire County.
Haworth told investigators he saw a pickup truck driving toward him in the area of Jene and Spehle roads, with the driver turning a light bar on the truck on and off. The truck then began to back down Spehle Road.
Based on the odd driving behavior, Haworth said he suspected this was the suspect’s vehicle, and he radioed Eaton that the truck was backing up in his direction.
The truck then came to a stop, and Haworth said he saw the driver’s side door open. He opened the door on his squad car, exited with his patrol rifle and yelled at Diesterhaft to “show his hands” or “put his hands up.” Haworth then saw Diesterhaft had a scoped rifle.
Haworth used his squad car for cover feeling he had nowhere to go with a steep embankment to his left and an open field to his right. When he looked around the corner of his vehicle, he said he saw Diesterhaft getting closer to him and raising his rifle to the shooting position and aiming it at the deputy.
“At this point, Deputy Haworth feared for his safety and recalled thinking he needed to stop the threat before he was shot,” according to his interview with investigators.
Haworth then fired four to six rounds at Diesterhaft and saw him fall into the south ditch. Believing Diesterhaft might be taking up a new shooting position, Haworth said he fired two more shots, advised dispatch that shots had been fired, Diesterhaft was down, and deputies were OK.
During interviews with investigators after the shooting, Eaton said he began driving east on Spehle Road the day of the shooting after hearing Haworth say the vehicle was backing down the same road.
In a short distance, the deputy saw the truck and noticed its reverse lights were activated. Eaton continued driving east toward the vehicle with his squad’s emergency lights activated.
As he continued to drive toward the truck, Eaton said he saw Diesterhaft stop and get out. Bringing his vehicle to a stop, Eaton said he saw Diesterhaft was armed with a long gun.
Thinking Diesterhaft was pointing the gun at him, Eaton ducked down behind his squad dash and grabbed his patrol rifle. Fearing for his life, he fired approximately two rounds through the vehicle’s windshield.
The deputy then got out of his squad car and moved to its right rear panel for cover and began giving Diesterhaft commands to show his hands.
Diesterhaft said he “just wanted to die,” and he figured if he held the gun up, the deputies would shoot him in the head.
Diesterhaft admitted to stealing the gun in his possession and said he took it because he was thinking about shooting himself, but he couldn’t do it.
He also admitted to recently using marijuana and methamphetamine and said he was sorry for what he did to deputies.
Diesterhaft currently is being held in the Dunn County Jail.