Shakopee police officer won't face charges in fatal shooting

A Shakopee police officer won't face criminal charges after fatally shooting an armed man at a home last fall.

Scott County Attorney Ron Hocevar on Friday released a report finding that Officer Thor Carlson was justified in using deadly force when he fatally shot 61-year-old James Hanchett on the night of Nov. 9.

Officers were responding to a fire alarm at Hanchett's home at the time of the shooting. The county attorney's report, based on an investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said body camera footage from Carlson and another officer at the scene shows Hanchett answering the door with a handgun pointed at Carlson.

"Given the facts of this situation, this office concludes that the officers appropriately exercised the use of deadly force" under state law, Hocevar wrote.

According to the report:

Officers were sent to Hanchett's home on the 800 block of Apgar Street South just after 11 p.m. on Nov. 9 on a report that a fire alarm was activated.

Carlson, a 12-year veteran of the department, was joined by Officer McKenzie Lampman, who had been with the department for about a month and was being trained by Carlson.

The officers told investigators that they repeatedly knocked on the front door of the home; Carlson estimated they knocked on the door for about 30 seconds, and said he also shined a flashlight into the home to get the attention of a man they could see inside. Loud music could be heard coming from the home.

The man inside the home — Hanchett — got up and walked past the front door and down a hallway, then returned to the front door. Hanchett opened the door and, according to officers and indicated in body camera footage, pointed a handgun at Carlson. Carlson drew his firearm and fired at Hanchett, striking him three times.

"The (cameras) of both officers clearly show Mr. Hanchett answering the door and pointing a firearm, later found to be a .45 Glock, directly at Officer Carlson," Hocevar wrote in his report.

The report does not indicate that Hanchett fired his gun.

Hanchett was treated at the scene and later died at a hospital. An autopsy found Hanchett's blood-alcohol level to be 0.141.

Carlson and Lampman did not have their body cameras activated when they approached the home; department policy does not require cameras to be activated for routine calls such as fire alarms, according to the county attorney's office.

They did activate their cameras immediately after the shooting; the camera model they use captures and saves video — but not audio — from the 30 seconds before being activated. So the shooting is shown on video, but any exchange of words between the officers and Hanchett before shots were fired is not on the footage, according to the report.

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