Prosecutor says fatal Sheboygan police shooting was justified

Posted at 12:25 PM, Jul 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-29 19:17:07-04

SHEBOYGAN -- Friday morning, Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco cleared Officers Brandon Kehoe and Anthony Hamilton of any wrongdoing surrounding the death of Kevin Higgins.

Surveillance video released shows the moments leading up to the deadly shooting at the Union Avenue Tap in Sheboygan.

Around 11:30 p.m. on July 17, officers responded to a robbery call at the bar.

Higgins was leaving through a side door as officers approached the building.

“The video shows the subject (Higgins) face the officer, square into a shooting stance and bringing the A15 (rifle) to his shoulder and raising the muzzle toward the officer,” DeCecco said. “The muzzle is almost directly pointed at his (Officer Hamilton) chest when he and Officer Kehoe opened fire.

Higgins was hit 6 times. Two bullets went into his chest, striking his heart.

DeCecco said during a news conference that Higgins was heavily armed and was likely planning more than a robbery.

“The incident was not about robbing a bar,” DeCecco said. “I think the deceased knowing the police were on the way, was leaving the bar to find a shooting spot to shoot police as they arrived in response.”

According to Higgins’ obituary, he’s an army veteran who suffered from PTSD.

Authorities said they are working with the VA to obtain Higgins’ records before commenting further.

TODAY’S TMJ4 learned Higgins did have a prior encounter with law enforcement back in February.

“He made suicidal comments to his wife who contacted the sheriff’s office for help,” Winnebago County Sheriff’s Captain David Mack said. “A brief standoff occurred at the home which ended peacefully. However, statements were made that Mr. Higgins wanted to die through suicide by cop.”

Higgins was armed with a rifle that had a 30-round magazine, scope and silencer. Police also said he had a loaded backup rifle in his car and numerous rounds of ammunition.

The bartender working inside on the night of the robbery was accidentally shot by police, but is recovering.

There were a total of four people inside the bar, including the bartender. No one else was injured.

We reached out to Higgins’ family to learn more about his past and battle with PTSD, but have not received a call back.