MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Lino Lakes police officer involved in a fatal shooting earlier this year will not be indicted for the potential charges of second-degree murder, the Anoka County Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday.
The attorney’s office says an Anoka County Grand Jury was presented evidence, which included testimony from 15 witnesses, regarding the shooting death of Sam Holmes on May 8, 2015 in Fridley. The grand jury then decided not to indict Sgt. William Owens based on the evidence.
The grand jury concluded Owens’ actions were an authorized use of deadly force by a police officer.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the shooting happened during an evening traffic stop on Interstate 694 in Fridley. Owens pulled a driver over for speeding as part of a multi-agency traffic enforcement detail in that area.
Authorities say the driver, 31-year-old Holmes of New Brighton, had outstanding warrants and was suspected of driving under the influence. A struggle ensued after Holmes got out of his vehicle, and the officer tried to subdue him with a Taser.
Holmes then got back into his vehicle and drove off with Owens holding on. Owens was then dragged for some distance on the freeway before he shot and struck Holmes, and then fell onto the interstate.
Holmes’s vehicle left the road, drove through a fence and eventually came to a stop in the parking lot of Cub Foods off University Avenue and 57th Avenue Northeast. Holmes was pronounced dead at the scene.
Owens is a 13-year veteran of the Lino Lakes Police Department, including nine years as a police officer.
Lino Lakes Public Safety Director John Swenson released a statement Wednesday in response to the decision:
We respect the work and the decision of the Grand Jury. With the conclusion of the external investigation and the Grand Jury process, the Lino Lakes Public Safety Department will conduct an internal review of the incident and the actions of the officer. A thorough and transparent review process is vital to maintaining public trust and the integrity of our profession.
We understand that the life-or-death decisions made by officers have a profound impact across our entire community. They deeply affect and forever alter the lives of the officers, their departments and the friends and loved ones of the individuals involved.
In conjunction with the Minnesota BCA, a preliminary force review was completed and Sgt. Owens returned to duty after his physical injuries healed.
We are grateful for the on-going support as we all continue to work through this tragedy.