February 07, 2018 03:21 PM
A jury trial was scheduled to begin Wednesday for the Minneapolis police officer who allegedly fired his weapon at a vehicle near the scene of a fight outside of a Minneapolis nightclub in 2016.
Efrem Hamilton is charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, intentional discharge of a firearm that endangers safety and firing a weapon within a city, all felonies.
Hamilton, 43, is still a member of the Minneapolis Police Department, though no longer in a law enforcement capacity, according to a police spokesperson.
According to a criminal complaint, police officers responded to a report of a fight with shots fired near 408 3rd Ave. N. around bar close on Nov. 19, 2016. Officers determined a gray sedan seen leaving the scene might have been involved in the shooting.
Meanwhile, Hamilton, who had been working off-duty at the Pourhouse at Hennepin Avenue and South Fifth Street at the time of the call, responded to assist but did not radio that he was doing so, the complaint states. As he responded, officers elsewhere had stopped a gray Cadillac that was allegedly involved in the shooting.
At the scene of the reported fight, the driver of a gray BMW with six occupants determined not to be involved with the fight/shots fired was told by police to back the vehicle down 3rd Avenue North in order to leave the area.
As the driver did so, the complaint states, Hamilton pulled his squad into the middle of 3rd Avenue, blocking the BMW, which then bumped into the squad, causing minor damage. Neither airbag was deployed, the complaint states.
Hamilton then got out of his squad and fired a shot at the vehicle, striking it near the trunk opening between the rear window and the top of the tail light on the driver's side, according to the complaint. No one in the vehicle was hurt.
Hamilton later told investigators he believed the BMW was speeding up as it backed toward his squad, and that he believed the vehicle contained the suspect involved in the shots-fired call, though he did not share that information over the radio, according to the complaint.
He said he didn't know how many people were in the BMW, but that he shot at whomever was in the driver's seat because he feared for his safety, in part based on the suspect vehicle description he had heard in the initial radio call. He said he shot despite not seeing a weapon, the complaint states.
The complaint says other information "would tend to show that the BMW backed up on 3rd Avenue at a relatively slow speed, and that the shot fired by Defendant was fired almost immediately after the low-speed collision between the BMW and the squad car."
Hamilton was sued last summer for using excessive force during an unrelated incident that occurred in 2014 at an Uptown bar, court records show.
Updated: February 07, 2018 03:21 PM
Created: February 07, 2018 02:56 PM
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