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Ashland County Rejects Wrongful Death Claim In Jason Pero’s Death

Board Rejects $9.5M Claim From Family 14-Year-Old Fatally Shot By Deputy

Madison protestors rally for Jason Pero
Protesters walk the streets of Madison on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, to call attention to the fatal officer-involved shooting of 14-year-old Jason Pero. Marylee Williams/WPR

The Ashland County Board has rejected a $9.5 million wrongful death claim from the family of 14-year-old Jason Pero who was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy. The county board passed a resolution March 15 disallowing a claim that was served to them by attorneys for the boy’s parents.

Deputy Brock Mrdjenovich killed Jason last November after responding to a report of a male walking with a knife on the Bad River Indian Reservation. A special prosecutor determined the fatal shooting was justified following an investigation by the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigations within the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

“Whereas, the St. Croix County District Attorney, after reviewing the evidence and the standards and training for law enforcement in the state of Wisconsin found that the deputy’s use of deadly force was appropriate and declined to issue any charges arising from the incident, now, therefore, be it resolved by the Board of Supervisors of Ashland County that Ashland County does hereby disallow the … claim, in its entirety, effective immediately,” the resolution reads.

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Jason’s parents, Holly Gauthier and Jason Pero, allege in the claim that Ashland County Sheriff Michael Brennan and staff failed to properly train or supervise Mrdjenovich. They allege a lack of training resulted in what they believe was the use of excessive force.

“Brock Mrdjenovich’s failure to properly use deadly force was unreasonable and foreseeably, directly, and proximately resulted in Brock Mrdjenovich using excessive force and shooting and killing Jason Ike Pero,” the claim reads.

A claim is often a precursor to a lawsuit against a government body. The parents have a six-month window in which to file a lawsuit under Wisconsin statutes.

Ashland County Administrator Jeff Beirl referred questions to Ashland County corporation counsel Matthew Anich, who declined to comment further on the claim. Ashland County Board Chairman Pete Russo declined to comment due to the potential litigation against the county. Ashland County Sheriff Michael Brennan didn’t return a request for comment Wednesday. The attorney for Jason Pero’s parents also didn’t immediately return a request for comment.