Grand jury: Lino Lakes officer's deadly force at traffic stop justified

An Anoka County jury declined to indict Lino Lakes Police Sgt. William Owens on potential murder charges in the shooting death of a driver during a May traffic stop.

After reviewing evidence and hearing witness testimony, grand jury members concluded Owens was justified under Minnesota state law in using deadly force during the confrontation, the county attorney's office said in a statement Wednesday.

The shooting occurred May 8 at about 10:50 p.m. on westbound Interstate 694 at University Avenue in Fridley. Owens, who was working a traffic detail to catch drunk drivers involving several Anoka County law enforcement agencies, stopped the vehicle for speeding, police said.

According to the preliminary investigation, when Owens tried to arrest Sam Mathew Holmes, 31, of New Brighton, for outstanding warrants and suspicion of driving under the influence, a struggle ensued. Holmes got back into his vehicle and took off, dragging the officer.

Before falling to the roadway, Owens fired his gun at the vehicle, which left the highway, went through a fence and stopped in a nearby Cub Foods parking lot, according to the investigation.

Holmes died at the scene. Owens, a nine-year veteran of the Lino Lakes Police Department, was injured, taken to a local hospital for treatment and later released.