Closing statements begin in trial of MPD Officer Efrem Hamilton

Minneapolis Police Officer Efrem Hamilton will have to wait a few more days for his assault case to make its way into the hands of the jury. 

The judge had promised those gathered in the courtroom that proceedings would not go past 4:30 each day, a policy he stuck to despite the fact that Hamilton's attorney was in the middle of closing arguments when time expired Wednesday.

His charges stem from a November 2016 incident where he shot into a car full of people while off duty outside a nightclub in downtown Minneapolis. Nobody was injured as a result, though Hamilton claims he thought he was coming up to an active shooter situation based on MPD radio transmissions he heard prior to arriving on the scene. According to trial testimony, he felt threatened after the car bumped into his police squad, forcing him to fire his gun.

"I was going to be killed," he said while on the stand Tuesday. "Retreat was not an option ... you have to win or you die."

Before the judge cut him off, Defense Attorney Fred Bruno was arguing that with the information he had, Hamilton's use of force was justified.

"Three seconds. That's all officer Hamilton had to work with," Bruno said. "Not your assessment ... not your hindsight from the comforts and safety of a courtroom."

Meanwhile, in their closing statements the prosecution questioned Hamilton's actions that night as he dealt with a chaotic situation, ultimately arguing that he pulled his squad behind the victim's car and caused them to collide. They also questioned why he didn't give any commands before firing at a crowded car without any information about who was inside.

If convicted, Hamilton would lose his police license, most likely ending his law enforcement career in Minnesota.

Closing statements will continue Friday morning due to a scheduling conflict for the judge Thursday.