Man accused of threatening to kill Thurston deputy

Staff writerJanuary 22, 2014 

Michael Kruegel

BY JEREMY PAWLOSKI

Thurston County sheriff's deputies arrested a 45-year-old man Tuesday on suspicion of threatening to kill one of their colleagues, court papers state.

When Michael Kruegel was taken into custody at his Mima Road trailer Tuesday, he was in possession of two guns, along with photos of the deputy he had allegedly threatened to kill, and photos of the deputy's personal vehicle and his girlfriend.

"It's very alarming," Thurston County Chief Criminal Deputy Andrew Toynbee said.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Anne Hirsch ordered Kruegel held on suspicion of felony harassment, threats to kill. Hirsch set Kruegel's bail at $100,000 during a court hearing Wednesday.

Kruegel's landlord called 911 Tuesday to report that Kruegel had told him he was going to kill the deputy, because the deputy had shot and killed his friend, Keith Miles, outside Miles' family's home in Littlerock on Nov. 2, 2012.

The Thurston County sheriff's deputy did fatally shoot 26-year-old Keith Miles on that date, and the shooting was ruled a justified use of force by the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office. The shooting was ruled justified after an investigation by the Region 3 Critical Incident Investigative Team, which investigates some officer-involved shootings.

Under state statute, officers are allowed to use deadly force when they have probable cause to believe a suspect poses a threat of serious harm to another officer or others.

Miles' fatal shooting occurred as Miles was about to swing a pool cue at a deputy's head after the deputy had fallen to the ground.

At that time, a second deputy also on scene fired a single shot from his rifle which struck and killed Miles, according to a written copy of the review of the shooting by the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

The deputy who fired the shot believed that the fallen deputy's life was in danger because Miles was about to hit him in the head with the pool cue, according to a review of the shooting emailed to The Olympian on Wednesday.

Miles is described by his father as being "not in his right mind" at the time of the shooting, the review states.

At the time of the shooting, about 2 a.m. on Nov. 2,  deputies had tracked Miles to his family's home in Littlerock after an attempted break-in at the Littlerock Grocery Store. Miles was a suspect in the break-in, Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin has said.

Several measures less lethal than a firearm were deployed to try to stop Miles as he ran out of his family's home brandishing a pool cue, according to the shooting review.

One deputy deployed a Taser to try to subdue Miles after he exited the home with the pool cue, but it was ineffective and had "no effect" on Miles, according to the review. Another deputy deployed a K-9, Otis, who bit Miles in the upper leg, but Miles still ran towards the fallen deputy after the deputy had slipped on a beer bottle, the review of the shooting states.

Miles' hands were holding the pool cue and it was "cocked back" as if to strike the fallen deputy when he was shot by the second deputy, according to the review of the shooting.

Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin said Wednesday that there is evidence that Miles had been drinking alcohol prior to being shot.

According to court papers, Kruegel's landlord told investigators that Kruegel believed Miles "was in handcuffs and on the ground when the officer just came up and shot him in the stomach." The landlord told investigators that he was very concerned that other people were influencing Kruegel's behavior, including an individual who may be affiliated with the Banditos Motorcycle Gang, court papers state.

Toynbee said Wednesday that it is disturbing that Kruegel had false information about what occurred during the shooting.

Deputies seized a shotgun and a .22 caliber rifle from Kruegel's trailer when they arrested him, Elwin said. Kruegel told deputies that he got the photos of the deputy he is accused of threatening to kill from Miles' grandfather, court papers state.

Elwin said sheriff's detectives will continue to investigate the case.

 

 

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445 jpawloski@theolympian.com

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