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BCA identifies Austin man killed in police shooting, officer who fired weapon – Twin Cities

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AUSTIN, Minn. — The name of the man killed by Austin police last week was released Tuesday by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Kokou Christopher Fiafonou, 38, of Austin, died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds, according to the BCA.

A two-year veteran of the Austin Police Department was identified as the officer who fired his weapon. He is officer Zachary Gast. Gast has been placed on standard paid administrative leave as the investigation continues.

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Austin Police Chief David McKichan said in a Friday statement that Fiafonou confronted officers with a knife Thursday night and was shot by an officer in the southern Minnesota community of 25,000. The BCA said in its news release Tuesday that a knife was recovered at the scene near Fiafonou’s body.

Austin police do not use body-worn cameras, but squad cameras captured portions of the incident, according to the BCA.

Social media reports from those who say they are related to Fiafonou disputed some of the police chief’s narrative about the incident. Attempts to reach the family through an online fundraising page and other social media have been unsuccessful.

Police said last week the incident began about 3:45 p.m. Wednesday in the area of Seventh Street Northwest and Eighth Avenue Northwest. A man was walking in traffic and holding a knife, according to initial reports.

When officers arrived, they found the man with a machete. Officers attempted to speak with him, but were unsuccessful and officers followed the man into a residence, according to police.

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Over the course of more than 24 hours, police as well as members of the Special Incident Response Team, including trained negotiators, used Tasers, pepper gas and less-lethal foam impact bullets in an attempt to bring Fiafonou into custody. Fiafonou allegedly threatened to harm other people.

By 6 p.m. Thursday, the law enforcement presence on scene was reduced to uniformed officers posted in the area to monitor the situation. About 9:30 p.m., Fiafonou left the apartment complex and walked to the Kwik Trip in the 1200 block of Oakland Avenue West.

Officers followed him to the gas station’s parking lot, where Fiafonou “confronted” officers with a knife.

“At one point, one officer discharged their firearm, striking the male,” police said in Friday’s statement.

The BCA’s investigation of the shooting is continuing. When the investigation is complete, the BCA will provide its findings without recommendations to the Mower County attorney’s office for review.

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