MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minneapolis police officer is facing felony assault charges for shooting at a car full of innocent people after bar close on a busy downtown street.
Officer Efrem Hamilton, 42, was charged by summons Tuesday with second-degree assault and felony intentional discharge of a firearm, Hennepin County court documents show. If convicted of both charges, Hamilton could face up to 12 years in prison and/or a $24,000 fine.
According to a criminal complaint, Hamilton was working off-duty in downtown on Nov. 19 when he attempted to respond to a large fight and a shots fired call on the 400 block of 3rd Avenue North. Over the radio, officers said they were looking for a dark-colored sedan in the busy downtown area.
As Hamilton was responding to the call, a BMW was ordered by police to back up on 3rd Avenue, the complaint states. While backing up on the one-way street, the BMW collided with Hamilton’s squad, causing minor damage.
Immediately after the crash, Hamilton got out of his squad and fired at the BMW. None of the six people inside were hurt.
“[Hamilton] jumps out, and, three seconds, later he’s discharging his gun. That’s not justified. You can’t do that,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a news conference. “The use of deadly force by police officers has to be limited to those very rare occasions when deadly force is mandated.”
Michael Hughes was one of the passengers.
“Literally right after the tap … the officer fired the shot into the vehicle,” Hughes said. “So we’re all just terrified and frightened, like what the heck just happened here?”
In an interview with officials, Hamilton said he was aiming for the driver and feared for his life. He said he thought the BMW was the suspect car.
Hamilton is not in custody. The county attorney said the officer is expected to turn himself in soon.