Minneapolis officer won't face charges in fatal August shooting
A Minneapolis police officer, who was involved in a fatal shooting that occurred in August of last year, will not face any charges.
The shooting resulted in the death of Mario Benjamin.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a news release Monday that following an extensive investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), Officer Jason Wolff's use of deadly force was justified.
"… the deadly force used by Minneapolis Police Officer Jason Wolff was not criminal and was objectively reasonable and necessary in order to protect himself, Minneapolis Officer Davis, the woman and her children," Freeman said in a statement, in part.
According to the investigation, at about 2:45 a.m. on Aug. 2, 2019, officers Jason Wolff and Ryan Davis were alerted that ShotSpotter detected one round fired near the intersection of 25th Avenue North and Emerson Avenue, three blocks from where they were on patrol.
While the officers were en route, they received another ShotSpotter alert from that location. The officers were notified from dispatch that a 911 caller reported someone being shot in the same area. The BCA states they each had on their body-worn cameras, as well as their dash camera to capture the entire incident.
The first thing both officers noticed when they arrived on scene was a woman lying in the middle of the street with a man, later identified as Mario Benjamin, hovering over her motionless body. The woman was Benjamin's former romantic partner of several years and mother to two of his children, ages 5 and 6.
According to the BCA's investigation of the shooting, agents learned that the woman planned on relocating to North Dakota with her four children. She was reportedly dropping Benjamin off at friend's home near 25th Avenue North and Emerson Avenue, where he was to stay temporarily, when a fight erupted between her and Benjamin. Outside the van the woman and children were traveling in, Benjamin had fired his weapon twice at the woman, hitting her once in the upper right chest. The BCA said the gunshot wound caused a severe spinal cord injury that left the woman temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.
Body-worn cameras showed that as officers left their squad car and walked toward Benjamin and the woman, they asked Benjamin where the woman was shot, to which he replied, "she shot." Officers initially believed Benjamin was assisting the woman and was not the shooter. While the officers were checking on the woman's injuries, they noticed that Benjamin had a tan pistol in his right hand. Both officers immediately unholstered their firearms, shouting commands at Benjamin to drop his weapon. The cameras captured officers making multiple requests and Benjamin ignoring their directives.
Wolff believed at the time that Benjamin posed an immediate danger to the children, both officers and the woman, who needed life-saving medical attention. Taking necessary, protective action to ensure the safety of those on-site, Wolff fired six shots at Benjamin, striking him at least five times in the body. Following the incident, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on Benjamin and found that he suffered seven gunshot wounds, some of which were likely caused by the same bullet.
Toxicology test results from Benjamin revealed that he had amphetamine, methamphetamine, naproxen and TCH in his system during the time of the shooting.
Both statements given from officers matched what was seen on the dash and body-worn cameras, according to the county attorney.
"I want to extend my deepest sympathy to the woman and her children during this difficult time," Freeman said. "The shooting by Benjamin caused tremendous grief for everyone involved. Officer Wolff's actions saved the woman and protected her children. Now that the case has ended, we ask that the public respect the privacy of the woman and her family."