Appleton PD: Steinke 'justified as trained' in shooting man in bar

Police say Lt. Jay Steinke witnessed an active shooter situation and used his weapon to stop the threat. (Photo courtesy Appleton Police Department)

APPLETON (WLUK) -- An Appleton police officer's decision to shoot at an armed man in a bar was ruled "justified as trained," according to an internal police department review.

Lt. Jay Steinke shot and killed Jimmie Sanders May 21 at Jack's Apple Pub, even though he was intending to shoot at another man, Henry Nellum. Steinke was responding to reports of a man firing shots inside the bar. Sanders was an innocent bystander who was hit when patrons running out of the bar jostled Steinke's gun, investigators ruled. Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider ruled last month that Steinke would not face charges.

According to the internal review released Friday, here is how Steinke described the events of May 21:

…because additional people keep coming out, extremely emotional, pointing inside, “He’s shooting, their shooting,” um, I then make the decision that it’s an active shooter. I’ve got to get in to stop whatever’s happening inside. Um, so I, I enter from the west door over here and as I’m entering, I’m trying to see as much as I can because the door’s already open. The door’s propped open with one of those rubber stoppers. Um, and I can’t see anybody with a gun, ah, in this immediate area. I then step into the doorway…and, um, I don’t see anybody with a gun here and, as I get in, I can see what to me is gun smoke in the air in the lighting. There was small lighting in there and then there’s a guy right in front of me, 10 to 15 feet away, and I look into his hand, and he’s got a gun in his left hand, and he’s moving towards me, and I’m in, in my mind, immediate danger. He’s got the weapon, intent, and delivery system.

A police department panel ruled:

  • Steinke's perception of the threat was reasonable
  • He had no other option to immediately stop the threat
  • It was not feasible for Steinke to verbally warn Nellum to drop the gun
  • Steinke met the target requirements
  • Steinke de-escalated his use of force as soon as Nellum no longer posed a deadly threat
  • Officers provided adequate medical assistance

Steinke completed the department's handgun qualification course in June 2016, according to the report.

Police Chief Todd Thomas wrote in a letter that he agreed with the panel's findings, but said he would have no further comment, citing ongoing court proceedings.

Nellum has pleaded not guilty to charges in connection with Sanders' death.

Steinke returned to full duty in June.

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