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Man who was shot by police charged with making threats with knife

September 18, 2018

A man who was shot by a Madison police officer about two weeks ago after police said he brandished a knife was charged Monday with two counts of threatening a police officer with a dangerous weapon.

Scott R. Stein Jr., 35, of Madison, was charged with threatening officers Christina Hill and Jane Zahalka on Sept. 1 after they responded to a 911 call reporting a battery to another man who had confronted Stein about a $20 debt, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court.

Hill later shot Stein once in the abdomen as he came toward her with the knife, the complaint states.

The case is one of several Stein faces, mostly involving retail thefts. He also appeared in court Monday for another case in which he is charged with battering a security officer at Menards on Madison’s West Side after the guard tried to stop him from leaving the store on Aug. 30 with what was suspected to be stolen merchandise. He also faces an attempted fleeing charge, among others, for leading police on a chase after the Menards incident.

Stein also appeared in court on misdemeanor retail theft charges for alleged thefts from Menards stores in Monona and Sun Prairie on Aug. 5 and 6.

Stein was jailed on $21,000 bail. Preliminary hearings in both the Aug. 30 and Sept. 1 cases were set for Sept. 25.

The state Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the investigation of the officer-involved shooting, while the Dane County Sheriff’s Office investigated the alleged threats to the officers. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, who will have to decide whether Hill bears any criminal liability for shooting Stein, said Monday that he just received the bulk of the reports in the case from DCI.

According to the criminal complaint in the threats case:

A man told police he confronted Stein about $20 Stein had borrowed from him. He said Stein tried to punch him but missed, but a second punch struck him behind his right ear. Instead of punching back, the man called 911.

Police responded to the call and tried to find Stein. Hill told sheriff’s Detective Mary Butler that she and Zahalka arrived and spotted him on a bike path between Seventh and Eighth streets, along the south boundary of Demetral Field on Madison’s East Side. Hill tried to turn toward a fence between the path and a residential area to cut Stein off, but he ran around her car.

Hill told Butler that she got out and started to chase Stein on foot, while Zahalka remained in her car chasing Stein. When he reached Seventh Street, Stein turned south. In the 500 block of Seventh Street, Hill said, he pulled out a knife and pointed it toward Zahalka, who was in her car alongside Stein.

Stein continued running and stopped in the 400 block of Seventh Street, again pulled out the knife and pointed it toward Zahalka. Hill told Butler that she then pulled out her service gun and pointed it toward Stein, who then turned his attention to Hill. She told him to drop the knife, but he kept approaching her. When he was between 5 and 10 feet away, she said, she fired once, hitting him in the lower abdominal area.

Zahalka gave a similar account to Butler, adding that she also shouted commands at Stein to stop running. At one point later, near Seventh and Upham streets, Zahalka told Butler, she heard Stein say as he pointed the knife toward her, “It’s gonna be you or me,” which she interpreted as a threat.

On Seventh Street, she said, she saw Stein continue to walk toward Hill with the knife out until he was within 10 feet of her, and that was when Hill fired.

The officers both provided medical aid to Stein until an ambulance arrived.

At the time of the shooting, Stein was free on signature bonds after being charged Aug. 8 with theft from an East Side construction site and attempted retail theft of power tools at Farm and Fleet, both in July.

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