A Ramsey County grand jury on Wednesday cleared a St. Paul police officer in the shooting death of a man on the city’s West Side last summer.
Guillermo Canas, 36, of St. Paul, was shot and killed in a confrontation with police officers who responded to calls that he was damaging vehicles.
For months, Canas had told his family that he kept “seeing people” who would hit him, his sister-in-law Marta Lopez said through an interpreter during an interview at the time.
On Aug. 28, 2014, neighbors called police, saying Canas was throwing rocks in a yard and talking to himself. Hours later, police responded to a call that he was damaging vehicles. Some of the people who called were frantic about a bloodied man who was breaking windows with a pipe and attacking a school bus, according to police reports.
“I was sitting in the car reading the paper and he come up and started smashing my back window,” one caller said. “Better get someone here. He’s gonna hurt somebody.”
One of the two responding officers retreated when Canas raised a rock believed to be larger than a baseball, St. Paul Police Chief Tom Smith said after the shooting. When Canas went toward the other officer, the first officer fired multiple shots, fatally wounding him.
Lopez said police could have tried other options to calm Canas. But a grand jury Wednesday determined there was no probable cause to charge officer Joseph Sandquist and that the officer’s use of deadly force was appropriate under state law.