By Shereen Siewert
The Clark County District Attorney on Friday announced that Marathon County Deputy Russell Gage, who shot and killed a Loyal man in September, acted reasonably and in an act of self defense.
The shooting happened Sept. 13 and was investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation. Robert E. Domine, 77, was killed in the shooting.
The incident began just before 5 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2019, when Loyal Police Officer Jacob Schar attempted to stop Domine after recognizing his vehicle. Domine was wanted in relation to a Taylor County arrest, police said. Schar activated his emergency lights and blocked the roadway but Domine ignored commands, drove around the squad car, and a chase ensued.
Clark County deputies joined in the pursuit, which wound through rural roads and highways with speeds between 80 and 100 mph. During the chase, Domine pointed a handgun through the rear sliding window of his truck at a Clark County Sergeant, who was leading the pursuit.
Domine was subject to a court order in his pending Taylor County case indicating he was not to be in possession of any firearms. Domine’s vehicle eventually entered and became stuck in a swampy area, and Domine fled on foot and escaped.
One day later, police learned that Domine had returned to his home in the Loyal. The Clark County Emergency Response Team (ERT) responded to the area, and tried to persuade Domine to him to turn himself in. Police say Domine had barricaded himself in his home and informed officers he had multiple firearms in the residence. Multiple officers worked to negotiate a peaceful resolution for more than six hours, but as Domine continued to refuse to surrender on his own, police began implementing alternative tactical options.
At approximately 10:11 p.m. on Sept. 12, the Clark County ERT tried entering the residence but Domine fired two shots, with one striking Clark County Sergeant Wade Hebert in his ballistics vest. Hebert was transported to the hospital. Additional tactical teams from the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department, Marshfield Police Department, and Eau Claire County Regional SWAT responded. The Marathon County SWAT team ultimately used an armored vehicle to damage the front window of the residence to gain entry.
At about 1:50 a.m. Sept. 13, Domine fired at least three shots at the Marathon County SWAT team and the armored vehicle, striking the windshield directly in front of the driver’s head area, according to police. Gage returned fire from the armed vehicle, striking Domine three times. A robot from the Marathon County Bomb Squad was used to clear the residence and a suspected booby trap near an entryway before officers entered the residence. Multiple firearms were located within the home, and Domine was pronounced dead at the scene.
Autopsy results indicate Domine died as a result of the firearm injuries sustained during the confrontation, according to the district attorney’s statement.
Under Wisconsin law, any person, including a police officer, is allowed to use deadly force in an act of self-defense if the person reasonably believed that he or she faced an unlawful interference that created a risk of death or great bodily harm to themselves or others.
“If, as here, the person’s actions are privileged under the law of self-defense, he or she cannot be convicted of any crime,” said Clark County District Attorney Kerra Stumbris, in a prepared statement.