Minneapolis, MN – Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Officer Efrem Hamilton has been charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and felony discharge of firearm from a November 19th, 2016 incident where he shot a bullet into a car full of young adults.
For more information about this incident, click on the image below to see our article from November 22, to hear from family members of the young adults who were shot at.
About two months after the shooting, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office pressed felony charges on the forty-two-year-old Minneapolis policeman. He had been working off-duty at a nearby bar in downtown Minneapolis the night of the shooting.
According to the criminal complaint (see below), around bar close time (approximately 2:14 am) Hamilton responded to a nearby call of gunshots being fired. Hamilton did not radio in that he would be one of 32 other police officers responding. While he was driving to the scene he got into a minor accident with a gray BMW being driven by a young adult named Caylea Wade. Hamilton quickly opened fire on the BMW and missed Caylea by inches.
“Defendant got out of his squad car, pointed his firearm at the BMW and fired a round at the BMW. Defendant did not give any commands to the driver or passengers of the BMW prior to firing the shot.” – criminal complaint
The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice (TCC4J) held a press conference with one of the victims of the shooting, Caylea Wade, and her family, at the Hennepin County government center on Friday, January 27th. Unicorn Riot was live for this press conference.
We spoke to Caylea Wade, who was driving the car that Officer Efrem Hamilton shot at. She spoke about the incident that has left her seeing a “PTSD counselor about two, three times a week“.
“Once he shot at us, they surrounded our car with a bunch of rifles, like, big guns … it was terrifying. They told us to shut up, stop talking, hands in the air. We couldn’t move …. They wouldn’t tell us anything that happened. I kept asking them, ’cause after I started smelling the gunshot — at first I didn’t know they shot my car, until I smelled it, and I was like, what the hell?!” – Caylea Wade
Caylea then describes how, fifteen minutes later (around 3 a.m.) each young person was put into a separate cop car and driven to the homicide unit, where they were each put into separate locked interrogation rooms. Her belongings were taken and she was denied water and bathroom facilities despite repeatedly expressing her thirst and a need to urinate. When Caylea began banging on the door, protesting that she wanted to make a phone call, that she hadn’t done anything and that she and her friends were victims, not suspects,
“One of the detectives came in there because I was banging on the door so hard. He came in there and rushed me into the room and pressed me up against the wall and was like, ‘Stop fucking banging on the door’ and was really rude. I was terrified, I thought I was going to go to jail, honestly.” – Caylea Wade
Caylea gave consent for her blood to be tested for intoxicants, knowing that she had nothing to hide. After spending two hours at HCMC, Caylea was brought back to the homicide unit, where, after another hour she was finally permitted to call her father. Around 8 a.m., she finally was given water and then released, after almost six hours in police custody.
When asked by our reporter if she could recall having ever hearing before of a Minneapolis police officer being charged for this type of action, and she could not. Caylea is “extremely happy that the officer was charged, as he should be” and hopes he gets convicted.
“It’s crazy to me that an officer was so quick to shoot. It’s mind-blowing to me, honestly. It’s upsetting, it’s scary. I haven’t gone out since then because I don’t want it to happen again. I’m terrified of police.” – Caylea Wade
The bullet whizzed by her head, missing her by inches. The full interview with Caylea is available in the video below.
Below is a screen shot of Efrem Hamilton’s charge details from Hennepin County (the link to his charge details have since been deleted). Notice that he was booked on January 26th at 2:32 p.m. CST and released an hour and twenty one minutes later with no bail required, although he was charged with two felonies.
We asked Hennepin County Attorney’s Office about Efrem’s quick release and no bail requirement, to which they responded:
“Essentially, he was released on his own recognizance. That happens to defendants who are deemed not to be a flight risk and not a public safety threat.” – Chuck Laszewski, Media Coordinator, Hennepin County Attorney’s Office
MPD Chief Janee Harteau released a statement regarding the incident and charges involving Officer Efrem Hamilton:
“I am aware of the charges against Officer Efrem Hamilton. I am concerned and disappointed that a Minneapolis Police officer has been accused of criminal conduct and we do not take this matter lightly. The Minneapolis Police Department is committed to serving the City of Minneapolis with honor and integrity. Unfortunately, these accusations distract from the professional service Minneapolis police officers provide each and every day in our community.
We have created a culture of accountability and have demonstrated when incidents occur that do not meet those standards, action is taken to hold individuals accountable. We understand the community’s desire for transparency and will provide as much information as possible once state law allows us to do so.” – Police Chief Harteau
The maximum sentence that Efrem could do if he was convicted and sentenced consecutive terms, is twelve years in prison. Rarely are sentencing terms consecutive, so the max for the second degree assault is seven years. Efrem’s first court date for these two felonies, is February 27th, 2017.
During the press conference (seen in it’s entirety below), Caylea’s father said that
“I think my wife and I were more concerned about was if the Coalition (TCC4J) didn’t get involved … I think this would’ve just went by the wayside. I think it goes by the wayside way too much. So, thank you to the coalition.“
To watch the full press conference on the 27th, see below:
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