10/07/2011

Report, video released in Wis. officer death

Officer Craig Birkholz was shot in March as he arrived on scene; Another officer and K9 also shot

By Emily Matesic
WBAY

FOND DU LAC, Wis. — The final report on the March 20th Fond du Lac police officer shooting is now available for the public to see.

The Department of Justice posted the public records - including videos of the crime scene - on its web site Wednesday. View excerpts by clicking here. Note: Some documents contain foul language.

"It's good that the public is able to look at those documents and see the heroics that were involved that day," Captain Steve Klein of the Fond du Lac Police Department said.

On that day, James Cruckson opened fire on police officers responding to a report of a sexual assault at his home.

Officer Ryan Williams recovered after being shot as he entered Cruckson's home. His K9 officer, Grendel, recovered after also being shot.

Officer Craig Birkholz was shot above and below his tactical vest as he arrived on the scene, and died.

More than six months later, the flags in front of the Fond du Lac police department are no longer at half-staff, and there isn't a black ribbon around the department's badge, either.

The release of all of the investigative material to the public, including videos, audio recordings, and photos, is just another sign the department is moving forward.

"I think we're getting to the point with closure," said Klein.

According to Captain Klein, it's a situation most officers won't ever see in their careers. But it's one he's proud his fellow officers are dealing with so well.

"Our officers are they're coping with this. They're starting to heal from this tragic incident. And as a department we're moving forward but as a department we'll never forget."

As the police department continues to heal and move on, it credits the community for helping with that process.

"The overwhelming support we received from the community and the state of Wisconsin was overwhelming for us, and it really did help us get through some very difficult times."

Reprinted with permission from WBAY

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