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The officer of 11 years said muscle memory caused him to open fire by mistake.

A Minnesota police officer who shot an unarmed motorist last year says his training caused him to mistakenly open fire.

Eden Prairie Police Sgt. Lonnie Soppeland, a law enforcement veteran of 11 years, discharged his gun last June within moments of pulling over a motorcyclist reportedly traveling in excess of 110 miles per hour. The bullet struck the rider, 21-year-old Matthew Hovland-Knase, in the arm. Soppeland later told investigators firing the gun wasn’t his “conscious choice.”

“You actually shot me didn’t you?”

“I feel the muscle memory from that recent training of squeezing the trigger contributed to the unintentional discharge during a high-stress situation,” Soppeland told the investigators.

Footage from the shooting, only recently unearthed by local television station KMSP, shows exactly how events played out. Following a brief chase, in which police say Hoveland-Knase attempted to flee, Soppeland is heard stepping out of his patrol car and shouting, “Get your hands where I can see them.”

At the same time, he fires a shot, which strikes Hoveland-Knase in the arm.

“Oh, shit, fuck, fuck,” Soppeland spouts, as Hoveland-Knase, still mounted on his bike, begins to yelp in pain. As the officer then approaches the wounded rider, he begins to beg for help. Soppeland slowly moves him off the bike and sits him on the ground before running back to his car for a first-aid kit.

“You actually shot me didn’t you?” Hoveland-Knase asks as Soppeland begins dressing the wound. “I’m not going to say anything right now,” Soppeland says, “but, you know, it wasn’t intentional, I can tell you that.” In pain, Hoveland-Knase responds, “I know, I know.”

When support units arrive, Soppeland tells them, sighing, “He was shot in the arm. By me.”

Soppeland was later placed on administrative leave, but has since returned to duty. Meanwhile, Hovland-Knase was sentenced to five days of community service and 15 days house arrest, according to court records, for trying to evade a peace officer while being pulled over. 

H/T KMSP | Illustration by Max Fleishman

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.

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