Family, friends and supporters of a 25-year-old man shot and killed by a Pine County Sheriff’s Office deputy are demanding to see camera footage of the incident, and making calls for the firing and prosecution of the deputy involved. 

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is continuing its investigation of the case, and has identified the deputy involved in the incident as Deputy Joshua Pepin, who has been with the Pine County Sheriff’s Office for five years. 

Shooting on Oct. 9

According to the BCA, Pepin shot and killed Anthony Michael Legato, 25, of Oak Park during a confrontation on Interstate 35 on Friday, Oct. 9.

The incident happened in the northbound lanes of Interstate 35 near mile marker 180 and the Mora exit.

The BCA reports that Pine County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a 911 call on Friday around 1:45 p.m. from the victim of an alleged domestic incident at the Grand Casino Hinckley. On their way to the casino, the deputies spotted the suspect’s vehicle and began to pursue it.

Legato entered I-35 the wrong way, driving south in the northbound lane. Shortly after this, Legato pulled to the side of the highway and exited his vehicle.

Pepin was driving northbound on I-35 and pulled over immediately south of Legato’s vehicle. As Pepin exited his squad, Legato then reentered his vehicle and began to pull out into oncoming traffic. The BCA states that Pepin fired his weapon at some point during the confrontation, and struck Legato. Portions of the incident were captured on body cameras and squad cameras.

Legato’s vehicle rolled forward, crashing into an oncoming vehicle and then came to a stop in the median.

Deputies provided immediate medical assistance, but EMTs pronounced the Legato deceased at the scene. He was taken to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office for identification and autopsy.

The driver of the other vehicle was not seriously injured. No officers were injured during the incident. The victim of the alleged domestic incident was not injured.

The Minnesota State Patrol and a DNR conservation officer assisted at the scene. A portion of I-35 was closed until the area was cleared.

Pepin was placed on standard administrative leave.

Pine County Attorney Reese Frederickson said that the Minnesota BCA is “actively and thoroughly investigating,” the shooting.  

The BCA investigation includes evaluating the body camera and squad camera footage of the incident and interviewing incident participants and witnesses. Frederickson said he anticipates that the investigation will be completed in 2-3 weeks and submitted to the Pine County Attorney’s Office for review once it is finished. 

Speaking out

During the open forum of the Dec. 1 meeting of the Pine County Board of Commissioners, several people called for action as they addressed the board members. 

Legato’s sister, aunt and friend made calls for the body camera and squad camera footage to be released, and for Pepin’s firing and prosecution.

Michelle Gross, with the group Communities United Against Police Brutality, argued that the body camera footage is public under Minnesota statute. 

“Squad and body camera footage can be held during an ongoing investigation, but need not be,” Gross said. “We would encourage you strongly to release that footage to the family to give them some peace of mind.” 

Gross alleged that Pepin sped past other deputies in order to be the first on the scene, then shot Legato, who was unarmed and moving away from him.

“He put others in danger in the process,” Gross said. 

She also called for Pepin to be prosecuted. 

“Anthony Legato is deeply missed by his parents, his sisters, his cousins, his grandmother and his friends,” she said. “Most importantly, Anthony’s son Vinnie will not get a chance to grow up with his dad. Anthony’s family is grieving, and they deserve truth, justice and answers.”

Pine County activist Aileen Croup also spoke at the meeting.

“I hope this case goes forward ... as it is supposed to,” Croup said. “Somebody driving the wrong way on the freeway put so many lives in danger. I think our deputies did what they needed to do at the time. I support them.”

(2) comments

Weston Reed

This is a great article Mike Gainor. Very informative and timely, especially with the bad weather and recent driving conditions. I have been following this case. I am glad to see their is a journalist in the area who follows up too. Thank you for keeping the public informed about ongoing and current issues of public concern. Any updates? I have got to say, this police officer puts the fear in an average man. With a personal work history driving for public transportation, I am overly cautious to a fault but accidents do happen. With the long hours I have put in, I have seen quite a few unintentional driving errors, I am guilty myself. I am sure many incidents that have happened by accident, in general from the outside may have appeared intentional and have been assumed to be just the same. This case rings that bell to me. Keep up the good reporting, officers should also be informed that drivers make mistakes and those should not ever be allowed to be considered a crime, that is worthy of a killing. Glad I am retired.

Weston Reed

An Angel was taken from earth that day...far to soon. I pray for his family. This is a tragedy.

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