Officer who died by suicide was being investigated for 'serious allegations'
A Rochester police officer was found dead Wednesday at Essex Park from an apparent suicide — just one day after being placed on administrative leave due to criminal allegations.
The body of Officer Mitchell Jenson, 49, was discovered by a member of the public around 10:30 a.m. An initial investigation found that Jenson died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.
On Tuesday, investigators with the Olmsted County Sheriff's Office began looking into "serious allegations" of possible criminal activity that occurred while Jenson was off duty. The sheriff's office was asked to handle the case due to a conflict of interest.
"It should be noted that placing Officer Jenson on administrative leave is not an indication of guilt or innocence," said Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson.
Sheriff Torgerson and Police Chief Roger Peterson held a joint news conference Thursday morning to address the circumstances. While both declined to state what specifically Jenson was being investigated for, they said an investigation would move forward.
"We owe the truth to the family, to Mitch and to the community," said Peterson.
Jenson was a five-year veteran of the Rochester Police Department and a 24-year veteran of the Marine Corps. During his time as an officer, Jenson was widely respected among his colleagues and was twice named a Minnesota DWI All-Star.
Calling him an "exemplary officer," Chief Peterson said news of Jenson's death has been "very hard on the department," especially for those who worked closely with him. Grief counseling will be available to department staff.
Jenson was married with children. The public is being asked to respect the privacy of his family during this difficult time.
"We have to support them, and we're going to support them ... regardless of where things go," said Sheriff Torgerson.
It is unclear when details surrounding the investigation will be made public.
Correction: A prior Facebook post indicated that Officer Jenson was found dead on Tuesday when, in fact, his body was located on Wednesday.
(Cover graphic: RPD)