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Prosecutor: Deputies justified in killing Chanhassen teen

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People mourn by Hwy. 7 on July 13, near where deputies shot Archer Amorosi.
People mourn by Hwy. 7 on July 13, near where deputies shot Archer Amorosi.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Updated 5 p.m. | Posted 12:51 p.m.

Two Carver County deputies will not face charges for using deadly force against 16-year-old Archer Amorosi as they confronted him outside his mother's home July 13 in Chanhassen, the county attorney said Thursday.

Deputies shot and killed the Minnetonka High School student after his mother called 911 to report that her son was suicidal and acting violent and destructive.

A preliminary inquiry by Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators found the deputies shot Amorosi after he came out of the house carrying what the BCA said was a small hatchet and a BB gun that resembled a handgun. 

A photo of Archer Amorosi on the front of a funeral announcement.
A photo of Archer Amorosi as it appeared on the front of a funeral announcement. Amorosi was shot and killed by Carver County deputies on July 13, 2018.
Courtesy of Don Amorosi

The agency noted that the deputies had tried to subdue Amorosi with a stun gun and pepper spray before shooting him.

Given the circumstances and the law, Deputy Travis Larson and Cpl. Jake Hodge were justified in shooting Amorosi, Carver County Attorney Mark Metz concluded in a memo made public Thursday.

According to the memo, Amorosi repeatedly threatened the deputies during the confrontation. At one point, Larson said Amorosi charged at Hodge with the gun and hatchet yelling, "I'm gonna kill you." 

Hodge said Amorosi, holding the gun and hatchet, "gave out a war scream" as he charged the deputy, who shot Amorosi as he approached.

The county attorney's memo said Amorosi was about 30 feet from Hodge when he began charging toward him and that the teen collapsed about 10 feet away from the deputy.

Metz said the decision not to charge was made after reviewing the evidence, including autopsy reports and "the single bodycam" video from the incident. The office also hired an independent use-of-force expert to review the matter.

Among the factors in making the decision, the county attorney's memo noted the deputies' attempts to first use less-than-lethal means to restrain Amorosi.

It stated it was "compelling" that Hodge and Larson fired "virtually simultaneously," indicating that "both officers independently reached the same conclusion at the same time — that Archer Amorosi posed an immediate threat of death to Corporal Hodge."

Addressing the number of shots fired, Metz wrote that "the number of shots is less significant than the fact all shots were fired in two seconds. Because the decision to use deadly force was reasonable, firing multiple rounds in rapid succession does not change the reasonableness of the decision."

Don Amorosi, Archer's father, has called for a  broad community discussion about mental health care for students and better training for police who interact with people suffering from mental illness.

He'd said previously that his son had been receiving mental health treatment, seeing a psychologist and taking medication.

So far this year, about one in five fatal police shootings has involved a person with mental illness, according to the Washington Post.