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Deputies cleared in shooting

A review board has determined two deputies were justified in the fatal shooting of a man in rural Hammond last month.

St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead said Thursday a five-person shooting review board, that included law officers from New Richmond and Polk County, determined that deputies Kristopher Stewart and Ryan Kelly followed all policies and procedures in the incident Feb. 23.

Stewart is an 11-year veteran of the department including eight years as a patrol officer. Kelly joined the jail staff in May, 2006 and has been in training as a patrol officer since January.

"The results of the shooting review board and an investigation by the Pierce County sheriff's department will be forwarded to the district attorney," said Hillstead.

The deputies are still on administrative leave. The sheriff said he anticipated their return to active duty by March 12.

"It's a tragic incident, tragic for the victim and his family and tragic for the deputies and their families," said Hillstead.

Jacob Lee Sperl, 22, died at as a result of gunshot wounds following a confrontation with the deputies.

Sperl, who had reportedly made suicidal threats, pointed a shotgun loaded with a deer slug at the two officers at outside his rural Hammond residence. The officers ordered him to put down his gun three times then fired 10 shots.

Hillstead said that the 12-gauge, unspent, sabot slug in the magazine of the Sperl's shotgun had the inscription; "Life sucks then you die," scratched into the casing.