Charges will not be filed against a woman and her son who were involved in the fatal shooting of a man outside their south Minneapolis home in late February.
"Based on the evidence available, the county attorney’s office is declining to file any charges because both individuals have a valid self-defense claim," the Hennepin County Attorney's Office said in a news release.
Martin Lee Johnson, 30, of Minneapolis, was shot in the chest in the backyard of a home on the 3300 block of 25th Avenue South. The 53-year-old homeowner and her 26-year-old son claimed self-defense in the shooting, saying Johnson broke into their detached garage. Then, after they fired warning shots, Johnson came toward them and was reaching for his waistband. That's when they shot at him.
The attorney's office says "most of the incident" was recorded on a Ring surveillance camera, which shows Johnson jumping a 6-foot privacy fence that surrounds the backyard and trying to get into the house via the back patio door. After being unable to get inside the home, video shows him going into the garage via a service door.
The homeowner had seen Johnson on the Ring camera trying to get inside and then thought he'd left. She grabbed her gun, which she is legally permitted to have, to check outside to make sure the man had gone. She also asked her son to grab the rifle from the basement, saying in case the man got into the basement via the egress window.
"Upon looking outside, she saw that her garage service door was slightly ajar and realized the man was still there. She began firing warning shots and yelled for the man to leave. Her son was standing next to her and similarly yelling for the man to leave. They did not leave the interior of the home and remained at the threshold of their patio door," the attorney's office said.
Johnson eventually came out of the garage but didn't leave the backyard, with the county attorney's office saying he began walking toward the homeowner and her son, who repeatedly warned him to leave and shot warning shots, he continued toward the family.
The man was eventually shot in the chest and died at the hospital. He was not armed. The attorney's office says, "Based on the report of the medical examiner and the investigation by Minneapolis Police Department, it cannot be said with absolute certainty which of the guns fired the bullet that killed him."
The homeowner's son called 911 and the family provided voluntary statements, as well as gave police access to their Ring camera footage.
"The evidence in this case does not support charges because a prosecutor could not disprove valid self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt," the attorney's office said in the declination letter. "The homeowner and her son did not have a duty to retreat because they were inside their own home. All of the surrounding circumstances show that their fear of bodily harm was subjectively real and objectively reasonable."
The attorney's office said the family had seen Johnson attempt to break into their home and then refuse to leave. Then, when he was walking toward them, he had his hands near his waist area.
"The homeowner and her son were reasonable in thinking that a potential burglar, undeterred by warning shots and advancing toward them, could pose a significant danger," the attorney's office said. "While this case is tragic, there is not sufficient proof that the homeowner and/or her son are guilty of a crime."
The attorney's office said it would not comment further.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Johnson's fiancee and his three children.