Two La Crosse police officers who shot and killed an armed carjacker have been cleared in the Aug. 13 incident.

Tim Gruenke


Roger Burzinski

R. Burzinski

La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke announced Friday that officers Stephen Hughes and Andrew Adey acted in self defense when they shot 54-year-old Roger Burzinski after he failed to comply with their orders after leading them on a high-speed chase with a baby in the stolen Chevy Trailblazer.

Burzinski, of Green Bay, took the truck from Houska Park after confronting a woman in the passenger seat at gunpoint. She was able remove her 3-year-old daughter from the backseat before Burzinski sped off with her 1-year-old daughter in the back seat.

Burzinski led officers on a pursuit of speeds up to 47 mph from South Avenue to Eighth Street, where he drove through a road construction site, went airborne and crashed into a parked car.

According to the DA’s office, Hughes approached the driver’s side of the Trailblazer, broke out the front and back windows with his baton and ordered Burzinski to stop and get out, but Burzinski continued rocking the vehicle back and forth in an effort to escape.

Adey approached from the passenger side and both officers pointed their firearms at Burzinski while ordering him out of the vehicle. According to the DA’s report, the officers saw Burzinski lean toward the center console, sit up straight, and then point a gun toward Hughes.

Hughes fired twice, while Adey fired three rounds through the passenger window. Burzinski was struck four times.

The officers then administered first aid, and Burzinski was taken to Gundersen Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. The Dane County Medical Examiner determined he died from gunshot wounds to the torso.

Neither the child nor the officers were injured.

The firearm was later determined to be a BB gun, according to the DA’s report.

Based on an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the DA’s office concluded Burzinski’s actions — including raising what appeared to be a firearm — justified the use of deadly force.

“It was reasonable for both Officer Hughes and Adey to believe the suspect had the intent and the means to inflict death or great bodily harm to an officer, a member of the public, or the child in the stolen vehicle,” Gruenke concluded.

Both officers have since returned to regular duty.

Burzinski was released from prison in September after serving 11 years for armed robbery, fleeing police and felony drunken driving in two Brown County cases. The state Department of Corrections issued an apprehension request for him on March 24 when he absconded from extended supervision and failed to comply with the state’s sex offender registry.

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Rhymes with Lubbock. La Crosse Tribune reporter and data geek. Covers energy, transportation and the environment, among other things. Call him at 608-791-8217.

(1) comment


Was there any question that the police did their job properly? Just think how your perception would be if that was your kid in the car. Good work by the LCPD under a extremely difficult situation.

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