St. Paul officer 'justified' in fatally shooting suspect who fired at him, county attorney says

The incident happened May 26, 2016.
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A St. Paul police officer who fatally shot an armed suspect last May won't be charged with a crime.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced Wednesday that officer Joshua Raichert's use of deadly force against 29-year-old Eugene Smith was "legally justified" under state law.

According to the county attorney's office, Raichert and other officers were doing a sweep of a home on Minnehaha Avenue on May 26, 2016. When Raichert entered the bedroom Smith was in, Smith fired a shotgun towards the officer, hitting the wall above his right shoulder.

At that point, Raichert fired six shots at Smith, killing him.

Choi's decision comes after the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated the incident, and then presented its findings to the county attorney's office, which considered whether to charge Raichert.

The Ramsey County Attorney's Office says it "carefully reviewed" the evidence presented by the BCA, and it has made copies of the investigative file available to the public.

To read the county attorney's review of the investigation, click here. And for a copy of the investigative file, you can contact the BCA's public information officer at 651-793-2726.

Why no grand jury?

Previously, Choi – and many other county attorneys in the state – had asked grand juries to consider charges against officers in these types of cases, but that changed following the fatal shooting of Philando Castile.

In that case, Choi's office decided to bring charges against the officer instead of leaving it up to a grand jury. This marked the first time an on-duty officer in Minnesota had been charged in the fatal shooting of someone in at least the past 16 years, according to the Star Tribune’s database.

The Pioneer Press explains that going forward, Choi's office would review officer-involved shootings instead of taking them to a grand jury, unless there was an investigative need to convene one.

Grand juries have been controversial as of late, with some saying they rarely bring charges against officers in use-of-force cases. Others have said they also lack accountability and there are transparency issues.

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