Around 5:30 p.m. Friday evening, patrolling cops in Sauk Centre recognized Tristin Lene-Johnson, 21, who they knew had an outstanding warrant from the Stearns County Sheriff.
According to jail records, Lene-Johnson's legal trouble at that point was relatively minor: disorderly conduct and "aiding an offender" in Stearns County, and another for theft in Waite Park. All are misdemeanors, and none nearly as severe—or dangerous—as what police say he did next.
The officers pulled their car up alongside Lene-Johnson, who proved uncooperative, turning his back and walking away, according to criminal charges filed Monday. Officer Dustin Von Wahlde got out of the car and pulled out his Taser. Lene-Johnson refused to stop walking or take his hands out of his pockets.
Without warning, he turned back toward Von Wahlde aiming what looked like a handgun; the second officer on the scene recalls hearing a "clicking sound, consistent with [a gun] being discharged." Von Wahlde fired his Taser on Lene-Johnson, who fell to the ground, but continued to resist arrest even after being shocked, throwing punches and wrestling the cops.
At one point during the struggle, Von Wahlde and Lene-Johnson toppled over onto the second officer, who says she suffered a shoulder injury and bruises on her ribs and wrist from the fight.
Backup arrived, and the suspect was finally subdued.
It was then that cops discovered the gun he'd aimed their way is a .177 caliber BB gun, which, an initial police statement notes, "resembled a higher caliber firearm."
Lene-Johnson was taken for treatment at a hospital in Sauk Centre, as were two of his arresting officers who reported "minor injuries." He was then booked into Stearns County Jail, where he was held over the weekend
Lene-Johnson faces four felonies for the incident: two counts of fourth-degree assault of a police officer,and two more for violent threats with "reckless disregard." The assault charges carry a maximum sentence of three years in prison and/or a $6,000 fine, while the threat charges can be punished by up to a year and/or $3,000.
A search of Minnesota court records indicates Lene-Johnson has no serious criminal record to date.