Driver and Cass County sheriff’s deputy involved in fatal confrontation are identified

A 23-year-old Louisville man was killed Wednesday night when a Cass County sheriff’s deputy shot him during a confrontation, officials said Thursday.

Just after 7:10 p.m. Wednesday, the deputy, 25-year-old Tyler Reiff, stopped a 1992 Buick Century near First and Cherry Streets in Louisville. The car matched the description of a vehicle that had been reported as being driven recklessly in the area, the Nebraska State Patrol said in a press release.

After initially stopping, the driver, Austin M. Baier, drove off a short distance, the patrol said. After stopping a second time, Baier got out of the car and confronted the deputy, officials said. An altercation ensued, officials said, and Reiff fired his service weapon, fatally wounding Baier.

Reiff, a four-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, and medical personnel attempted life-saving measures, but were unsuccessful. Baier was pronounced dead at the scene.

Reiff was not injured.

Reiff has been placed on administrative leave, the State Patrol said.

An autopsy will be conducted later today, the patrol said.

Under state law, a grand jury will be convened to investigate the shooting.

The site of the shooting is near Louisville High School’s football field.

Thursday afternoon, Baier’s former co-workers at Louisville’s Main Street Cafe were in disbelief. They said Baier was kind and soft-spoken and would do anything for anyone.

Meiah Yale-Barton, a cook at the cafe, went to school with Baier’s sister at Weeping Water High School. She said Baier also went to the school and ran cross country and track.

“He was a good kid,” Yale-Barton said. “He cared about the things he should’ve cared about.”

Yale-Barton and others said Baier was small in stature.

Baier was a nice kid but struggled with mental illness, which made his life difficult, they said.

Antoine Walker, 45, a cook at Casey’s General Store in Springfield, said the overnight staff at the Casey’s was so upset over his death that he came in early as a relief worker.

Walker said Baier also was a cook at the Casey’s; he had worked there about five months, making pizza and sandwiches at the convenience store.

Baier was a quiet guy who would bring in food to work to share with his co-workers, Walker said. He said he never would have thought Baier would be killed in a confrontation with law enforcement.

“I thought he was an awesome kid,” Walker said. “We’re all kind of hurting. It’s sad.”

“He was just free-spirited,” Walker said. “We’re all just distraught … It’s hard to believe in a small place like this.”