See more of the story

Two St. Paul police officers will not be criminally charged for fatally shooting William Hughes in August, the Ramsey County Attorney's Office said late last week.

Officers Matthew Jones and Vincent Adams acted legally when they fired 21 rounds at Hughes after he refused to drop his handgun and instead raised it in their direction, the office found.

"The officers' actions preceding and during the fatal encounter are consistent with commonly accepted police practices and training," Ramsey County Attorney John Choi wrote to staffers who reviewed the evidence.

Hughes, 43, was killed about 2:40 a.m. on Aug. 5 after his roommate called 911 to report that Hughes shot two rounds into the wall. Hughes had codeine and morphine in his system and a blood alcohol level of .265 percent, more than three times the legal standard for intoxication, according to information released by Choi's office.

Hughes' immediate family could not be reached for comment Friday.

Relatives told investigators that Hughes, a member of the White Earth Nation, had a heroin addiction, was diagnosed with a terminal illness and had expressed suicidal thoughts in May.

The Native Lives Matter Facebook group that first publicly identified Hughes, who was also known as "Billy," after the shooting and hosted a rally in his memory, rejected the county attorney's findings. The group demanded that the FBI reinvestigate.

"The use of police force must be taken seriously in order for cops to be held accountable," the group said in a statement. Native Lives Matter said it was not speaking for Hughes' family.

The county attorney's office released a 50-page memo from First Assistant County Attorney John Kelly and Criminal Division Director Richard Dusterhoft outlining the evidence and their decision.

Hughes' roommate told authorities that Hughes had been "fixated" on death in the weeks before the shooting.

According to the memo: Hughes' roommate told state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators that between midnight and 1 a.m. on Aug. 3, Hughes fired a handgun through a pillow inside the unit they shared. Hughes had consumed a few drinks that night.

On Aug. 5, Hughes, who drank the previous evening, fell out of his bed and became angry. He fired two shots into the wall, the roommate said. Hughes also knelt next to the roommate and pressed the barrel against the roommate's temple, the memo said.

The roommate fled and called 911 when Hughes stood and fell backward.

Kelly and Dusterhoft wrote that the officers acted legally because they were responding to a call about shots fired, the 911 caller hung up and could not be reached by dispatch despite several attempts, someone threatened to kill the officers when one of them knocked on a door at the scene, and Hughes raised a gun in their direction.

The officers told investigators they feared for their lives and approached the house with their guns drawn.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708 Twitter: @ChaoStrib