Off-duty Mauston officer charged after gun fires, strikes person in groin

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 10:31 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 13, 2020 at 11:26 AM CDT
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MAUSTON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Mauston police officer faces multiple charges after allegedly shooting and injuring another person with one of the guns he owned. The incident reportedly happened while the officer was off duty.

Sgt. Michael Sturek faces a trio of charges, including second-degree recklessly endangering safety, possession of a firearm while intoxicated, and endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon, stemming from the incident, which happened on August 26 outside Sturek’s home.

According to the criminal complaint, the shooting followed a night of drinking at a local bar by Sturek and the victim, during which the former told investigators he had about a dozen beers. A detective who was investigating the case reported being able to smell the alcohol on Sturek and could tell he had been drinking by the way he talked.

Later, at Sturek’s home, the off-duty sergeant was showing the victim his gun collection and selected a pistol that his guest had shown an interest in. When they went outside, Sturek claims he went to clear the weapon and it fired. He told the detective they were both surprised it went off.

Sturek told the detective he did not have his “booger picker on the bang switch,” the criminal complaint quoted him saying.

As the investigating detective and Sturek further discussed what happened, the complaint indicates they determined Sturek cleared the gun and released the magazine. However, the magazine remained in its well. Sturek said he could clear the gun by “rack(ing) the slide” back, the complaint said, adding "he thought the weapon was cleared and “racked the slide” back one more time. When he did this, the slide dropped forward and the gun went off."

Sturek, who claimed to be a firearms instructor, told the detective he was not too familiar with that particular pistol and had not used it much since acquiring it.

The victim was taken to Gundersen Health System, in La Crosse, to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries. That person’s name was not released.

Sturek is one of four Mauston police officers who were on administrative leave simultaneously - although not all for the same reason, leaving the department with only half its staff on active duty. In another incident, two officers were allegedly involved in a bar fight for which one of them could face charges.

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