Since 2000, at least 148 people in Minnesota have died after being shot, Tased or restrained by a police officer. To date, no officer has been charged in any of those deaths.
In more than 130 decisions, a grand jury, county attorney or the U.S. attorney determined there wasn’t probable cause of a crime being committed.
The Star Tribune analysis of police-involved deaths goes back to 2000, the earliest year death certificate data was largely complete. It's not clear whether any Minnesota officer was criminally charged in a force-related death prior to 2000.
Decisions not to charge or indict an officer are often interpreted to mean the officer was justified in using deadly force under state statute, which says it’s legal if the officer felt they or a bystander were at risk of being killed or seriously hurt.
In Ramsey County people serving on a grand jury are instructed that they don’t have to return an indictment, even if they do find probable cause of a crime, if they think the charges would not result in a conviction at trial.
A handful of deaths were never reviewed for charges because a medical examiner determined the person’s death wasn’t due to an officer’s use of force but by something else, such as accidentally swallowing a bag of cocaine or “excited delirium.”
Excited delirium is a condition where someone becomes extraordinarily aggressive and even psychotic, often when on cocaine or methamphetamine.
Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683