MENOMONIE — A man shot by Eau Claire County deputies after leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase through Dunn and Eau Claire counties in August will serve six years and five months in prison.
Reese A. Diesterhaft, 24, was convicted in Dunn County in November of burglary while arming himself with a dangerous weapon and fleeing/eluding an officer.
Dunn County Judge James Peterson sentenced Diesterhaft on Tuesday to seven years in prison and five years of extended supervision, with 217 days of credit for time already served.
On Aug. 7 in a Dunn County gas station, Diesterhaft tried to kiss a woman and asked if she wanted to have sex with him. When deputies approached him at Luer’s Grocery in the town of Rock Creek, he spurred a car chase that reached 95 miles per hour, according to a criminal complaint.
When Diesterhaft approached Eau Claire County, deputies saw him reach into the back seat and grab a rifle.
Law enforcement found Diesterhaft in the town of Brunswick. He came out of his vehicle pointing a rifle at deputies. Eau Claire County deputies James Haworth and Dan Eaton fired at Diesterhaft, wounding him twice.
Diesterhaft told officers “I wasn’t going to hurt you guys, I just didn’t want to go back to prison,” according to a report Eau Claire County District Attorney Gary King released Monday.
Diesterhaft was treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire. At the hospital, he told authorities it was the “dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life” and that he wished law enforcement had shot him in the head. He said he had recently used methamphetamine and marijuana, according to King’s report.
Diesterhaft had active warrants in Dunn County and South Dakota at the time. He had recently been released from prison on parole in South Dakota.
Diesterhaft told investigators that he came to Wisconsin to visit his father before committing suicide.
On the hunt for a handgun, Diesterhaft said he stole a rifle from an unlocked house between Rock Falls and Caryville. He said he wanted to “do something stupid” so that law enforcement would have to shoot him because he did not want to go back to prison, according to the complaint.
Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said Tuesday the incident was “tough for the officers.”
“It was like he baited law enforcement to take action … these are critical incidents for law enforcement to go through,” Cramer said.
Haworth and Eaton were justified in their use of force when shooting Diesterhaft, King said Monday.
Both deputies were placed on administrative leave while the Eau Claire Police Department investigated the incident. It is common procedure for an outside agency to investigate officer-involved shootings.
Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf asked for a maximum sentence on both felony counts, a total of 11½ years in prison.
Nodolf said it’s the second time she’s seen someone in Dunn County attempt to use law enforcement to commit suicide since she was appointed in 2014.
“He is a threat to Wisconsin and Wisconsin must respond to that threat,” Nodolf said.
Diesterhaft’s attorney, Kerry Kelm, recommended three years in prison, and said Diesterhaft struggled with mental health problems.
Diesterhaft fled from the gas station because he knew people lived nearby, he said at Tuesday’s sentencing: “I wanted to be away so that when I got shot, it wouldn’t hit anyone else.”
He also apologized to the officers involved in the shooting.
“I’m a selfish person and I didn’t think that an officer would think anything of shooting me … Sorry doesn’t even cut it,” Diesterhaft said.
Peterson said he had to prioritize public safety to sentence Diesterhaft.
“I want to have some compassion for how you felt, you were a desperate man … but it doesn’t take away from the seriousness of your conduct,” Peterson said.
Diesterhaft will serve his prison sentence concurrently to any South Dakota sentence, Peterson said Tuesday. Diesterhaft said he faces four and a half years in prison in a South Dakota burglary case.
Three other charges against Diesterhaft — possessing a firearm as a felon and two misdemeanors — were in November dismissed and read in.
Diesterhaft must pay $1,036 in court costs and must have no contact with any victims in the case during his supervision.