UPDATE: Video released in deadly Feb. 2021 Wadena County shootout

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 11:04 AM CDT|Updated: Jan. 24, 2022 at 3:56 PM CST
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WADENA COUNTY, M.N. (Valley News Live) - Intense body camera footage has been released nearly one year after shots rang out on a rural Wadena County road and left two brothers dead, one officer injured and another officer shot.

In the evening hours of February 27, 2021, Deputy Troy Mayer was on routine patrol in Wadena County and had a civilian ride along in his squad car with him. Shortly before 9 p.m., Deputy Troy Mayer saw two vehicles coming at him at a high rate of speed on Wadena County Road 12. The officer activated his radar in the squad car which indicated a speed of 80 mph in a 55 mph zone. Deputy Mayer turned around and activated his emergency lights to conduct a traffic stop.

One of the vehicles, later identified as 36-year-old Shannon Savela’s, slowed down his speed, however 42-year-old David Savela did not. Documents say David continued to try to evade the officer at a high rate of speed for quite some time. Near 205th Ave. and 270th St. in Sebeka, Minn., David attempted to travel back toward the officer, but got stuck and was spinning his wheels. Deputy Mayer then got out of his squad car and gave commands to David to stop his vehicle and to stop trying to drive away, which documents say David did not comply with. Documents say Shannon can then be heard yelling from a distance and Deputy Mayer tells him to stay back and to stay in his vehicle.

Deputy Mayer approaches the driver’s side of David’s car and again tells David to stop trying to drive away in his vehicle. At some point David does stop trying to drive his vehicle away and the exchange between David and Deputy Mayer can be heard and observed on both the officer’s dash cam and his body camera.

Beginning at the 4:10 mark of the body camera footage, documents from Wadena County state David is rambling on about political conspiracies, how the officer is ‘fake law enforcement,’ and is agitated about the corruption in the county and the state. David continued ignoring the officer’s request for his driver’s license and tells the officer that he is taking national security matters into his own hands, documents state. David then tells the officer, in a highly agitated state, to ‘stand down.’

Documents also say David can be heard on camera saying, ‘You f****** have been pushing around my family around for too many f****** years and it will not happen anymore.’

‘You have f***** with my ability to have job security and any f****** life whatsoever,’ documents say David told the deputy. During this entire exchange, David is observed getting more and more agitated, he is pointing his finger and cursing throughout the exchange and Deputy Mayer attempts to calm David down and de-escalate the situation with him.

Sebeka Police Officer Jason Worm soon arrives on scene to assist the Wadena County Deputy. Documents say Officer Worm talks with Shannon, who is still by his vehicle which was quite a distance away from where the deputy and David were.

David then proceeds to tell Deputy Mayer he will not comply with any of his requests and begins trying to drive off again. Deputy Mayer tells David that he will be tased if he does not stop trying to flee and if he doesn’t start complying. Documents say David then tells the officer, ‘don’t you f****** play with me boy,’ and tells the officer to get out of his way. David is then observed making a lot of movements and documents say the deputy asks David to show his hands, which David does not comply with.

At the 8:36 mark in the body camera footage, documents say Deputy Mayer tases David, but it had no effect on him. At 9:06 mark in the video, documents say both Deputy Mayer and Officer Worm are trying to gain control of David outside of his vehicle.

On Deputy Mayer’s squad video, documents say Shannon is heard yelling at the officers to ‘stand down,’ and very shortly after, five gun shots ring out from Shannon, who was about a car length away from where both officers and David are located on the ground. Deputy Mayer was hit in his upper buttock/lower spine from the Shannon’s gunfire.

While officers scramble for cover, David can be seen on video getting up off the ground and pulling a gun from his right side waistband while turning towards the officers, documents say. Officer Worm fired his gun twice at David which made him fall to the ground. Officer Worm then made his way around the front of David’s vehicle trying to locate Shannon. Documents say 13 gunshots can be heard within a 10 second timespan on Deputy Mayer’s squad car video, but the action is out of view of the cameras.

David died on scene, while Shannon died later at a local hospital.

A medical examiner stated David Savela sustained four gunshot wounds, two of which came from his brother Shannon. The other two gunshots came from Officer Worm. The autopsy also stated David’s toxicology was positive for meth, metabolite amphetamine and cannabinoids.

An autopsy on Shannon Savela showed he sustained six gunshot wounds and also tested positive for methamphetamine, metabolite amphetamine and cannabinoids.

The Wadena County Attorney’s Office announced in August that after a comprehensive review of the BCA case file, criminal charges were not warranted against the officers. Wadena County Attorney Kyra Ladd states the evidence in the case file makes clear that ‘deadly forced used in the line of duty was necessary to protect the peace officer and/or another from apparent death or great bodily harm.’

In order to bring charges against an officer for using deadly force in the line of duty, documents state the State must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the force was not justified. The Wadena County Attorney’s Office states that after officers had been fired upon by Shannon Savela and then when David Savela attempted to turn and shoot at the officers, Officer Worm was clearly protecting himself and he was clearly protecting the wounded deputy when he fired his gun. Officials say it only took 27 seconds from when the first shot was fired by Shannon and the last shot was fired by Officer Worm.

In a statement to Valley News Live on Jan. 21, Karen Savela, the mother of Shannon and David said:

“Since the murder, the Savela families has been harassed with Karen being targeted sexually, including stalking, both being followed everywhere just to try to intimidate us and have been lasered in the eyes and lasered everywhere on the body by Wadena Co. Law Enforcement, MSP and FBI. My name has been slandered implying that I am a evil person and not to associate with me. We’ve have our privacy invaded totally in the bathroom and bedroom. Every phone call is being monitored and they continuously listen in on private conversations. They’re have been attempts to cause health issues to Doug and I by pumping a substance into our residence. By harassing in this manner continuously 24-7 has led to believe us that they are trying to get an assessment done [verified} so they can reach their goal of trying to get us out of the community by claiming we are insane.

On or about Memorial of 2021, Shannon’s daughter, Kaylee had asked her mom while shopping if she could get a cross with Daddy wrote on it to put at the murder scene. Approx. 1 week later, someone removed it. This hurt Kaylee deeply to find out it was gone. This is very low of that person, who doesn’t like Savela’s to do such as thing, and not thinking of the children.

The vehicles involved, were also damaged while in Wadena Impound. According to the video this damage was not present when BCA investigated And we discovered this upon return of the vehicles to us. This kind of harassment is uncalled for and unnecessary. Please stop this hatred, we just want to live our lives like rest of the people in this community. with equality.”

Savela added she and her family are planning on taking the officers involved to court for the incident.

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