- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A grand jury has declined to indict two St. Paul police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a mentally ill man, concluding that they were justified in using deadly force, officials announced Thursday.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith announced the decision at a news conference Thursday, one day after the jury cleared the officers in the shooting death of Philip Quinn, 30, last fall.

“This was a tragic event” for Quinn’s family and for the officers involved, Smith said, but the officers did exactly what they were trained to do.

Officers were called to Quinn’s home Sept. 24 on a report of a suicidal man. Police said Quinn was holding a screwdriver, ignored commands to drop it, and charged at them until officers could back up no farther and fired. But Quinn’s girlfriend, who was there, said he never threatened or charged the officers. She said officers didn’t give him enough time to comply and instead escalated the situation.

Smith said he and the Quinn family agreed on one thing: he needed treatment for his mental illness.

“If Philip Quinn would have had opportunity to have an open bed and to get some help, this tragedy probably would not have occurred,” the chief said.

Smith said police had received several calls that day from Quinn’s family about his behavior. He said Quinn’s girlfriend had called 911 saying Quinn was acting “bizarre, psychotic.” Quinn’s mother had said he stabbed himself numerous times and believed that he had died and come back to life, Smith added.

Smith said the confrontation escalated when Quinn ran out of the garage directly at an officer. He retreated, shouting numerous times to drop the screwdriver until the officer was backed up against a fence and forced to fire, the chief said.

In a dashcam video released Thursday an officer can be heard shouting at Quinn to drop an object in his hand. Police fired four shots in all. Two bullets struck Quinn. Smith said events unfolded too quickly for the officer to try to stun Quinn with a Taser, and that methamphetamine was later found in Quinn’s system.

The announcement came at a time of heightened tension locally and nationally about police use of force. Dozens of protesters marched along University Avenue in St. Paul and through several retail stores in early January to call for justice in Quinn’s death. They also blocked a light rail line briefly.

And activists who’ve protested the police shooting in Minneapolis of Jamar Clark last November gathered Friday at the office of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to demand that he take charge of prosecuting the two officers involved in Clark’s death - rather than leaving the decision up to a grand jury - saying grand juries rarely indict police.

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