CHANHASSEN, Minn. (KMSP) - The Carver County Attorney’s Office announced Thursday no criminal charges will be filed against the law enforcement members who shot and killed 16-year-old Archer Amorosi at his Chanhassen, Minnesota home on July 13.
Carver County Sheriff’s Corporal Jake Hodge and Deputy Travis Larson fatally shot Amorosi while responding to a 911 call made by his mother, Kara, reporting her son was suicidal. During the encounter, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Amorosi did not comply with multiple commands. The deputies shot him after he came out of the home holding a hatchet and a handgun-style BB gun.
Due to a conflict of interest, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension conducted an independent investigation into the fatal shooting. It concluded the investigation on Sept. 17 and sent the case to the Carver County Attorney’s Office for review.
The attorney’s office determined the use of deadly force was justified because Hodge was in a life-threatening position.
“Unfortunately, once Archer charged at Corporal Hodge ‘in a full sprint’ with the hatchet, less than lethal force was no longer a plausible option,” the attorney’s office said in a memo regarding their decision.
July 12: Day before the shooting
On July 12, Archer’s father, Don Amorosi called 911 to report an emergency at his ex-wife’s house in Chanhassen. He told dispatchers he had just brought his had just brought back his son from a trip that ended early because he had a meltdown.
Don told dispatchers his son had “real big problems with anger issues…I brought him back and told him that he was going to lose his car temporarily until he agreed to get, go back to the therapist and get back on his medicines.”
Don reported Archer had kicked the trash bins all over the yard and taken his mother’s flower pots and threw them in the driveway. He then locked himself in the house.
In his call, Don reported Archer had severe anger management and depression issues and was not taking his medications.
In an interview with the BCA following the fatal shooting, Kara Amorosi said Archer “was very upset that we were taking his car away for two weeks…because while he was in Delaware with his dad he got angry when his sister borrowed his car and he talked inappropriately to me and his dad and we wanted a consequence.”
Deputies responded to the home, but ultimately determined there was insufficient legal grounds to take Archer in for a mental health evaluation.
July 13: Day of the shooting
At 9:56 a.m., Kara called 911 to report Archer was being suicidal. She told dispatchers her son had trapped her in the garage and would not let her leave.
“He’s got a baseball bat,” Kara said. “He also has knives. You’re gonna need to bring multiple police.”
His mother told the 911 dispatcher Archer wanted to “have like a showdown with the police.”
Deputy Larson was the first to arrive at the scene. He reported seeing Archer, shirtless, standing in a bay window at the front of the house pointing what appeared to be a gun at him and yelling “I’m gonna kill you.”
Archer was continually pointing the gun, later revealed to be a BB gun, at deputies at the scene, despite repeated commands to drop the weapon.
During the encounter, deputies employed less-than-lethal techniques to de-escalate the confrontation, including using pepper spray and deploying Tasers on two separate occasions.
Larson saw Archer run through a line of trees between his home and the neighboring house. He had the BB gun in one hand and the hatchet in the other. Other deputies continued to yell at Archer to drop the weapons, but he disregarded their commands.
Archer then turned and ran back towards his home, where Hodge was standing next to a pine tree.
Hodge said Archer “gave out a war scream, like ma-aaaaaah yelled at me. Ran straight, he was coming straight at me with that hatchet and that gun…[Archer] went out in a full out fastest sprint he could run…this guy’s coming to kill me.”
As Archer ran at a full sprint towards Hodge, he yelled, “I’m gonna kill you.” At that point, both Larson and Hodge fired simultaneously, killing him.
Carver County Attorney: Use of deadly force was justified
Deputy Larson told the BCA that “even if you were to remove the firearm from the situation, he still had the [hatchet] and he was charging at my partner saying he was gonna kill him, there’s no speculation on that.”
Bodycam footage from a South Lake Minnetonka police officer who responded to the scene captured some of the shooting. The bodycam footage has not yet been released.
The attorney’s office said the bodycam footage, physical evidence and statements from other deputies at the scene supported Hodge and Larson’s belief that Hodge’s life was in danger.
“Once Corporal Hodge was placed in a life-threatening position, he and Deputy Larson used reasonable force to stop the threat,” the attorney’s office said. “Their actions are reasonable under law and there is no legal basis to charge either with a crime.”
Amorosi family responds to decision
A lawyer representing the Amorosi family released the following statement:
Archer’s family is disappointed in the County Attorney’s decision not to charge the deputies that shot and killed Archer when he needed their help the most. Today’s decision, however, does not change anything from a civil standpoint. It does not mean the responding deputies’ conduct was proper, in accordance with police practices, or beyond reproach. The burden of proof in a criminal case is the most rigorous in our justice system.
The report omits crucial pieces of information while emphasizing irrelevant material. The report does not state whether Archer was shot in the back or the front. The County Attorney refuses to share that critically important information even with the family. Where Archer was shot is certainly more germane to a use-of-force analysis than Archer’s text messages to his family, which the deputies had no knowledge of at the time they decided to use deadly force.
We have requested the complete file from the investigation. Upon receipt, we will do a thorough, complete, and unbiased review of the evidence and then decide how best to bring justice to Archer and his family.
No parent should have to hesitate to call law enforcement to help their child during a mental health crisis because of fear that an officer may kill their son or daughter. That should not have happened here. Our community should still have Archer. His family should still have their beloved son and brother.
Regardless of what happens from a legal standpoint, more needs to be done to help the children of our community and the families that battle with mental health issues.
Law enforcement needs to treat and respond to these calls differently and with compassion.