Tensions high in court room during officer involved shooting trial

Emotions ran high Friday during the trial of a Minneapolis police officer who fired his gun at a car full of people in 2016.

The father of one of the six people in the car audibly reacted to squad car and body camera video of the incident played in court. Lucious Wade's daughter, Caylea Wade, was the driver of the car fired at by officer Efrem Hamilton in the early morning hours of Nov. 19, 2016. Hamilton fired once after the grey, four-door BMW backed into him. No one inside the car was hurt.

Hamilton's body camera recorded his brief conversation with a supervisor immediately following the shooting. After Hamilton tells the supervisor that he "took a shot at them" and said he didn't hit anyone, Wade spoke up from the gallery.

"Thank God," he said.

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That led judge Fred Karasov to tell Wade to be quiet or he'd be kicked out of the court room.

After the jury left for lunch break, Wade approached members of Hamilton's family who were sitting on the other side of the courtroom. Wade said he wanted to talk to them outside the courtroom.

Hamilton, who has appeared calm and collected throughout the trial, turned to Wade and said sternly that if he had anything to say that he needed to say it directly to him.

Karasov then called for deputies to enter the court room and keep Wade away for the remainder of the trial.

Later outside the court room, Wade said he wanted to talk to Hamilton's family, including the officer's 19-year-old son, because he said they were giving him dirty looks throughout the trial.

"Your dad just tried to kill my daughter, man. Why are you giving me the evil eye?" said Wade. "We can go out in the hallway and talk about it."

Wade said he wasn't threatening the family. And he says it's been hard to contain his emotions during the trial, which he feels has tried to paint his daughter as the person who committed a crime, not the officer.

"They haven't even apologized to our family at all," he said. "No one has."

A spokesperson for Hamilton's family declined to comment any further about the incident. However, defense attorney Fred Bruno complained to Judge Karasov that Wade tried to attack his client's family.

The outburst came after the prosecution played excerpts of Hamilton's squad and body camera video.

Hamilton activated his lights and sirens as he headed down Washington Ave. to respond to a reported shooting. An excerpt of the police radio traffic played during court contained references to "a large volley of gun fire" coming from near Pyrmd Nightclub along 3rd Ave. N. not far from Target Field.

Hamilton had been working off duty in another part of downtown and responded to the call without radioing dispatchers to let them know what he was doing.

As he turned left onto 3rd Ave. N. near JD Hoyt's, he turned the car's siren off. Immediately, the car containing Caylea Wade and five others came into view and smashed into the front of the squad. The crash is followed simultaneously by a popping sound. The squad video doesn't show Hamilton firing his gun. Several other officers appear on scene with their guns drawn, pointed at the car full of people.

Hamilton's body camera did not capture the collision. There's no audio for the first few seconds of the footage which shows Hamilton pointing his 9mm Barretta pistol at the car. The Axon 2 body cameras used by the Minneapolis Police Department have a buffer feature that captures a continuous loop of 30 seconds of video without audio before an officer activates the recording function.

Once the audio kicked in, Hamilton can be heard calmly telling the people in the car to keep their hands up. At one point, he politely asks, "You didn't see me with my lights and stuff?"

The windows in the car are down. And the passengers also appear calm. Driver Caylea Wade apologized for hitting the car. She didn't appear to know at the time that Hamilton had fired at her car.

Caylea Wade testified in court Thursday that she became upset after finding out later that her car was hit by gunfire.

The shooting is partially captured on the body camera of another officer who was near the scene. Officer Brandon Fandel was detaining a possible suspect along 3rd Ave. N. His body camera captured what appears to be Caylea Wade's BMW travelling in reverse past him.

Fandel didn't see Hamilton fire his gun. But Fandel's camera recorded the sounds of a honk; a crash; a revving engine and then a loud bang — all in the matter of a few seconds.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Fred Bruno said the revving sound was coming from the BMW. Bruno said Hamilton fired his gun because he feared the driver of the car was going to back into him again.

Correction (Feb. 12, 2017): Lucious Wade's first name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.