MINNEAPOLIS - A Minneapolis Police Officer has been found not guilty in connection with an incident where he opened fire on a car full of people last November.
MPR News reports that a jury chose not to convict 42-year-old Efrem Hamilton, who was charged with second-degree assault and intentional discharge of a firearm.
Hamilton was working off-duty at the PourHouse downtown early the morning of November 19, 2016 when he heard a call of shots fired during a fight at a location nearby. He scrambled to the scene to assist but prosecutors say he never radioed that he was responding.
As officers pulled over a Cadillac described as a suspect vehicle another motorist was ordered to back her BMW away from the scene down 3rd Avenue. As the female driver obeyed the instructions of officers she accidently hit Hamilton's car. Witnesses say the off-duty officer jumped from his vehicle and without issuing a verbal warning fired a single shot into the BMW, which had six people inside. Fortunately no one was struck.
Hamilton testified during the trial that when he arrived on scene he believed the car backing the wrong way down the street contained shooting suspects, and feared the driver was going to get out and shoot him.
His lawyer said Hamilton, who served in combat in Iraq as a Marine and has served on the Minneapolis police force since 2007, did what he was trained to do.
"Police officers have a difficult job," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman at the time Hamilton was charged. "Yet, in this case, Officer Hamilton fired a shot at a car full of people just three seconds after getting out of his car. This is unacceptable behavior by a police officer, endangering the lives of innocent people."