A Jackson County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot an armed Black River Falls man early Saturday in the town of Komensky, according to the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation.
Jackson County Sheriff Duane Waldera said the incident started when deputy Justin Wathke investigated a call about disorderly conduct and a possible restraining order violation.
When Wathke arrived, he took a statement from the female caller and then went to take a statement from the subject of the complaint, Lucas J. DeFord, 27, of Black River Falls. Waldera said a car chase ensued after Wathke arrived and DeFord drove to the residence of the female complainant.
“The vehicle definitely was going to the residence,” Waldera said. ”It ended at the residence, right in the front driveway.”
Waldera said that when DeFord arrived, he made a threat with a firearm, which prompted the gun fire.
An autopsy conducted at University Hospital in Madison confirmed the gunshot wound was the cause of death.
“You train, you try to run these scenarios. You run these movies in your head how it would be a good resolution in these worst-case-scenario situations, but you never really put it into perspective. I think that is what is troubling — you never think it will happen,” Waldera said. “When it happens you still are not ready for it. You can do as much as you can to get ready for it, but you are not there, and I think that is what we take for granted.”
Waldera said this case is tragic and is a sad end to a disorderly conduct incident.
“When you get into the situation further, the in-depth history of these individuals involved, it is a very bad thing that occurred, but there is a lot of history,” Waldera said. “These two people shouldn’t have contact, but the male party was so motivated to have contact with this individual that it was at all cost. When you get to that ‘at all cost’, you don’t know the state of mind.”
Wathke, who has worked in law enforcement since 2009, has been placed on administrative assignment pending the outcome of the investigation. The Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation led the investigation and plans to turn over the results to the Jackson County district attorney’s office when the investigation is complete. Wathke was the only deputy at the scene and was wearing a body camera.
“We have really good body camera and witness information. You are going to find the resolution to this is going to be tragic, but it is going to be what it is,” Waldera said.
About 25 people from the community demanded answers Monday morning as they sat outside the Jackson County Courthouse during a peaceful protest about the shooting.
“The ones that are here have a voice and they wanted to be heard, and I am totally fine with that assembly as long as it is peaceful,” Waldera said.