Wisconsin Department of Justice investigating death of man shot by Sheboygan police officer

By Dan Colton
for The Beacon

Police said Kevan O. Ruffin, Jr., age 32, was shot and killed in Sheboygan Thursday July 2 after charging an officer with two knives.

Police responded to the area of S. 15th Street and Illinois Avenue around 5:50 a.m. after dispatch was alerted to a domestic disturbance between a male and female. 

“Upon arrival, the officer attempted to engage [Ruffin] in conversation,” said Sheboygan Police Chief Christopher Domagalski at a press conference later that afternoon. Domagalski said Ruffin advanced on the officer near the intersection of S. 15th Street and Illinois Avenue. The officer’s attempts to use a tazer didn’t halt the advances of Ruffin.

The officer, identified by the Wisconsin Department of Justice as Bryan Pray, used lethal force in response, according to Domagalski, and a firearm was discharged. 

The female was transported to a local hospital and released later in the day, according to authorities.

Pray has been placed on administrative leave as per the police department’s policy. He’s been with the department 2 ½ years, the DOJ said.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation is leading an investigation into the shooting.

“I understand the impact and trauma these incidents cause to the community,” Domagalski said. “I’m hoping we can be patient and work through this together.”

Ruffin’s family has described the 32-year-old as a gentle person suffering from mental illness. 

During the press conference, community leaders, including Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen, said Sheboygan is grieving the loss of life.

Sheboygan Committee of the Whole Chairman Ryan Sorenson pledged a thorough investigation and said the city stands behind the black community.

“…The council will ensure this process is fair and equitable,” Sorenson said during the press conference. “…We must make it clear that black lives matter in our community.”

A local pastor also addressed the press with an invocation to mourn the loss of Ruffin’s life.

“We ask you (God) to guide our hearts and our minds during this time,” said Michael Thomas, pastor at the House of Saints Church in Sheboygan. “…God, we are counting on you, trusting you and depending on you.”

Officials at the press conference declined to answer questions posed by members of the media.

Categories: News

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