The Hennepin County Attorney's Office said Friday a motorist was justified when he fatally shot another driver more than a year ago in Maple Grove to avoid being run over and possibly killed.
The ruling clears the 32-year-old Minneapolis man in connection with the shooting of William Haire, 61, of Buffalo, Minn., on Garland Lane at County Road 30 in Maple Grove in April 2022, and it rejects an eyewitness account from Haire's girlfriend that Haire was the victim.
Shawn Daye, a spokesman with the County Attorney's Office, explained the no-charge decision, saying that Haire "followed the [other driver] for over 40 miles, while driving erratically and using racial slurs. Three times, the subject attempted to make clear ... that he wanted to be left alone." Daye said Haire was white and the other motorist is Black.
"While the subject was standing on the road," Daye continued, "[Haire] sped his car directly at the subject, leading the subject to believe [Haire] was trying to intentionally run him down and kill him."
Daye concluded that "with a credible and reasonable belief that one is in immediate threat of great bodily harm or death ... the subject was entitled by law to use deadly force to abate the threat."
The other man left the scene, turned himself in, was jailed but was soon released as the investigation continued. Police Cmdr. Jon Wetternach said Friday the man was legally possessing the gun at the time, and "there are no other charges being considered."
Helen Wilson, Haire's longtime girlfriend, said she was in the car that day and told the Star Tribune soon after the shooting that the encounter began when Haire spotted the SUV on Interstate 94 near St. Cloud "and was just concerned because they went around us, driving through lanes and stuff without putting their blinkers on."
Interviewed Friday, Wilson stood by her earlier account and denied that Haire tried to run over the other driver or that he directed any racial slurs toward him.
Haire followed the SUV to a gas station in nearby Clearwater and questioned "why they were driving reckless," Wilson said in her initial interview. The SUV driver got back on the interstate, and Haire resumed trailing the vehicle until they both exited at Maple Grove Parkway, Wilson said.
At Garland Lane and County Road 30, the man got out of the SUV and "was hitting my boyfriend in the face and the chest," she said. Haire put the car in reverse, "trying to get away, but he kept getting hit," she said. Then man then shot Haire, Wilson said.
Haire drove off and crashed into signs about a half-mile east near I-94 and Maple Grove Parkway, according to court records. Haire died about two hours later at North Memorial Health Hospital.