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Authorities identify man killed by officers in Cottage Grove

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Authorities Thursday afternoon identified the St. Paul Park man shot and killed late Wednesday by law enforcement officers at a traffic stop in Cottage Grove.

At around 11 p.m. Wednesday, four members of the Washington County Special Response team gunned down Jeffrey Lee Clausen, 33, of St. Paul Park, after he repeatedly ignored the commands of officers and exited the vehicle stopped on Hadley Avenue near Belden Boulevard, according to a release from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

The driver of the vehicle, Tiffany Deserea Merta, 27, of St. Paul Park, remains in custody. She was arrested without incident after the traffic stop before officers opened fire.

A third suspect who was riding in the back seat of the car remains hospitalized with injuries from the incident. Authorities have not yet identified the man.

The traffic stop that turned violent on Wednesday was part of an ongoing felony weapons investigation, a Minnesota Department of Public Safety spokesman said earlier Thursday.

The four officers who fired their weapons are on paid administrative leave. Public safety officials have said the move is standard procedure in an officer-involved shooting.

A Washington County District Court criminal complaint reveals that Clausen, the man killed by officers Wednesday, was arrested by Cottage Grove police on May 27 and charged with fifth-degree drug possession. He was found to be in possession of methamphetamine and multiple prescription drugs that night, as well as $2,000 in cash.

Clausen's criminal record dates back to a 1995 misdemeanor conviction in Pine County and includes convictions on charges of assault, drug possession, fleeing officers, driving after revocation, criminal damage to property and assault with a dangerous weapon.

He posted $10,000 bail on Tuesday and was released from the Washington County Jail. Clausen was scheduled to appear for a pre-trial hearing August 11 in Washington County District Court.

Clausen's family declined to speak with reporters Thursday afternoon.

Patricia Drey Busse contributed to this report.

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