Fatal December shooting by St. Paul officer deemed justified; officer won’t face charges

The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that it determined that a fatal shooting last year by a St. Paul police officer was justified under Minnesota law.

The Attorney’s Office said that criminal charges are not warranted against St. Paul Police Sgt. Cody Blanshan, the officer who shot Howard Peter Johnson.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated the shooting and presented its findings without recommendations to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office for review.

As previously reported, St. Paul officers responded to a domestic assault near Hudson Road and Earl Street after 6 p.m. on Dec. 5, 2022. The 911 caller said that Johnson ran away and had a gun.

When officers got to the scene, Johnson “appeared to be carjacking a victim,” police said.

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Officers hit Johnson with a squad car, after which Johnson shot at them, according to a memorandum from the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office explaining their decision. Blanshan fired back, hitting Johnson in the torso and leg.

Johnson was brought to the hospital, where he later died.

The BCA recovered 10 spent casings from Blanshan’s gun at the scene. Johnson sustained eight gunshot wounds, according to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner.

The BCA also found three spent casings from Johnson’s gun at the scene. Surveillance video from nearby businesses and body-worn cameras captured the exchange of gunfire.

Court records show Johnson had been convicted of several charges involving domestic abuse and violating no-contact orders dating back to 2018.

A BCA spokesperson said the full case file will be posted to the agency’s website once the case is fully closed.