Deadly force was justified in the police shooting in Richfield of a man threatening officers with a knife, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced Monday.
Brian Quinones-Rosario, 30, of Richfield, was fatally shot on Sept. 7 near E. 77th Street and Chicago Avenue after leading Edina police on a vehicle chase. Several officers from Edina and Richfield opened fire moments after Quinones exited the vehicle with a knife raised.
Several Richfield and Edina police squad car cameras and Quinones-Rosario's personal Facebook Live video captured the incident.
"After careful and extensive review of the evidence the Hennepin County Attorney's Office will not file criminal charges against Richfield or Edina police officers," came the announcement from Mike Freeman's office.
"Our office received hours of video evidence from the Richfield and Edina police squad car cameras and from Mr. Quinones' personal Facebook Live video," Freeman said in a statement. "When Mr. Quinones left his car after leading police on a chase, he had a knife in his hand. Subsequently, he threatened several officers with the knife. Mr. Quinones refused police requests to stand down and refused to drop the knife."
Under the law, Freeman continued, the officers' use of deadly force was "necessary, proportional and objectively reasonable."
A statement from the Richfield Police Department noted that "the incident deeply impacted the Quinones family, the officers involved, and our community. [Police and city officials] understand this has been a long, challenging process. The Richfield Police Department is committed to working with our community as we begin healing from this tragic event."
Quinones' wife, Ashley, reacted angrily to the announcement. In a profanity-laced posting on Facebook that included Freeman's 16-page report, she said, "Your reports contradict themselves ... Were we watching the same video??? Also, I was there!!! You can't lie to me!!! We saw it all, coward pigs!!! I am the witness!!!"
Ashley Quinones had been following her husband during the police pursuit and got out of her vehicle immediately after the gunfire, according to the report, which pointed out that she believed he was suicidal.
Accompanying Freeman's decision was his explanation, based on video and other evidence included in the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office investigation, of what occurred in the time leading up to and including the gunfire:
Quinones was speeding, making illegal turns and running a red light when Edina Officer Nicholas Pedersen spotted the car about 10 p.m. on Normandale Frontage Road near 77th Street. Pedersen started following Quinones, who was holding a cellphone up by his face.
Quinones continued violating traffic laws, prompting the officer to turn on his emergency lights and siren, and ordering Quinones to pull over. The report said that evidence indicates Quinones "intentionally committed traffic violations to cause police to follow and stop him."
Pedersen had dispatch alert other officers that he had "one not stopping" as the pursuit crossed into Richfield.
Quinones unexpectedly hit his brakes, and Pedersen parked in front of Quinones' car in a lane of traffic near the intersection of E. 77th Street and Chicago Avenue.
Pedersen got out of his squad car with his handgun drawn. Quinones "quickly came up behind him, aggressively pointing a knife in his direction," the county attorney's account continued. Dash cam video captured the incident.
Richfield Police Officer Dylan Schultz arrived and saw Quinones with the knife outside of his car walking toward Pedersen, who was repeatedly saying "drop the knife." Schultz used a Taser on Quinones, but that failed to subdue him.
Quinones then went after Pedersen, prompting the officer to fire three shots at Quinones.
Quinones turned, pointed his blade at Schultz and ran at him, screaming, "Kill me, kill me!"
Richfield Officer Macabe Stariha fired five shots as Quinones lunged toward Richfield Officer Joseph Carroll, who fired one shot. Stariha fired three additional shots at Quinones.
Edina Officer Benjamin Wenande, who arrived last, parked behind three Richfield squad cars and walked toward the median where other officers and Quinones were standing. Wenande heard officers saying "drop the knife" repeatedly. Quinones moved closer to Wenande with the knife in his hand, and Wenande fired one shot at Quinones.
After being shot multiple times, Quinones fell to the ground and dropped the knife. Medics arrived and pronounced Quinones dead on the scene.
An autopsy found Quinones was shot seven times and died as a result of those injuries.
Freeman's explanation did not specify which officers' gunfire struck Quinones. His spokesman, Chuck Laszewski, said, "It was not determined which officers' bullets struck Mr. Quinones."
Toxicology tests revealed Quinones was not under drug or alcohol influence during the incident.
The five police officers involved provided voluntary statements to the Sheriff's Office a few days after the shooting.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482