The Ramsey County attorney's office has cleared a St. Paul police officer in the shooting death last May of a man at an East Side home, determining that the use of force was justified.
Officer Joshua Raichert shot and killed Eugene "Geno" Smith, 29, May 26 after several officers entered a home in the 2100 block of E. Minnehaha Avenue as part of a drug and firearms investigation. Evidence shows that Smith fired a shotgun at Raichert, who returned fire and shot Smith six times.
According to a report from Ramsey County Attorney John Choi: Raichert, a St. Paul officer on the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, and St. Paul police were acting on a tip that drugs and guns were in the house.
On May 26 at 1:50 p.m., two men were arrested while leaving the house. One warned police that there was a pit bull in the house, but said that he didn't think anyone was inside.
Knowing that a fugitive felon, drugs and firearms had been seen at the property, police set up a perimeter as they waited for a search warrant. Concerned for the safety of neighbors, officers decided to conduct a protective sweep of the house to ensure no one else was inside.
Once inside, officers encountered the pit bull, which appeared aggressive. An unnamed officer shot and killed the dog. Police then kicked open a bedroom door on the first floor and found a woman with Smith standing behind her. When ordered to show their hands, the woman dropped to the floor while Smith "spun back," grabbed what appeared to be a rifle without a stock and pointed it toward Raichert. Raichert fired his AR-15 six times at Smith, who fell backward and dropped his gun. He was pronounced dead at the scene and would later test positive for methamphetamines.
About 10 seconds elapsed between when Raichert entered the room and when Smith was shot. No other officers were in the room and did not see the shooting. Other officers told Raichert not to dust off his clothes because a shot fired by Smith hit a plaster wall above his shoulder. Raichert had not been aware Smith fired a shot. Police later recovered a spent shell from a shotgun at the scene, which had Smith's DNA on it.
The woman described Smith as a meth dealer and her boyfriend. Earlier that day, she said he told her he was contemplating suicide.
According to Choi, the DNA and ballistic evidence that Smith fired at Raichert, audio evidence that Smith fired first and combined evidence that the two likely knew of the police presence justified the shooting.