Local

Minkler shootout report questions sheriff's office tactics

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Twenty months after two local law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office is revealing new details about what went wrong during the Minkler shootout.

Fresno County sheriff's detective Joel Wahlenmaier and Reedley police officer Javier Bejar were killed in the February 2010 incident. Tuesday, the sheriff's office made a new, 110 page report available to the public.

An independent agency gathered information to determine how the department can prevent incidents like the tragedy in Minkler from happening again.

February 25th 2010 is day Valley law enforcement agencies will never forget. That morning, Fresno County homicide detective Joel Wahlenmeier assisted Cal Fire, as they attempted to serve a search warrant at Rick Lisles' trailer in Minkler.

The report reveals between August 2009 and January 0f 2010, Cal Fire investigated 17 fires in the small Fresno County town. Around that same period, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office received 14 calls related to shots being fired. Both agencies, pin pointed Lisles as their primary suspect.

Cal fire prepared the search warrant. And while Wahlenmeier was asked to complete a risk assessment matrix to determine if a SWAT Team was needed, he failed to do so.

Eric Schmidt with the Fresno Deputy Sheriff's Association said, "I think I know why. That's because it wasn't our search warrant. It was Cal fire's."

Eric Schmidt is president of the Fresno Deputy Sheriff's Association. He was also good friends with Joel Wahlenmeier.

"He was the most meticulous and thorough person I knew," said Schmidt. "That's what makes this report difficult to see any criticism in what Joel was like as a worker."

The report also found law enforcement officers did not check how many firearms were registered to Lisles before the warrant was served. In all, there were 12 inside his home.

Another concern mentioned in the report, is whether officers thought it through before making a forced entry into Lisles' trailer.

Once they did, lisles immediately started shooting, hitting Wahlenmeier above his protective vest. Javier Bejar was shot in the head, as he took cover behind a patrol car.

Schmidt hopes the report will bring closure to the families, and change to the sheriff's office.

"In 20 months, I don't think anything has really changed," said Schmidt. "I think they're waiting for this to come out. And any training issues that need to be addressed will be addressed from this point on."

Sheriff Mims will discuss the report during a news conference Wednesday morning.

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minkler, fresno county, fresno county sheriff department, local
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