Grand jury: No charges against St. Paul cops who killed man in standoff

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Two St. Paul police officers will not face criminal charges for fatally shooting a man in a standoff at his home on the city's east side last year.

The Ramsey County Attorney's office said Wednesday a grand jury found the SWAT team members were justified in using deadly force when Justin Todd Tolkinen, 28, aimed an assault rifle at them.

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County Attorney John Choi released a statement summarizing the events of last March 16, as determined by investigators. It gives this account:

When police responded to calls from neighbors, Tolkinen – who had been treated for mental illness and chemical addiction in the past – was wearing an armored vest and brandishing the assault rifle on the deck of his White Bear Ave. home.

A crisis negotiator tried unsuccessfully to calm Tolkinen, who'd been yelling about the government and police.

The SWAT team was summoned and tried to take Tolkinen into custody. The two officers who fired at him said they feared for their lives after Tolkinen aimed his rifle at them. Tolkinen's vest stopped some of the gunshots but others struck him in unprotected areas, killing him.

A spokesman for the County Attorney says 23 randomly selected residents sat on the grand jury. An indictment against the officers would have required the agreement of 12 of them.

Instead, they returned what's known as a "no bill" decision, meaning they found the officers' actions were justified under the state law that authorizes the use of deadly force by law enforcement when required.

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