ST. CLOUD – A Stearns County District Court jury on Friday acquitted a 19-year-old man accused of shooting a St. Cloud officer in the hand during a scuffle last June.
Sumaree D. Boose was charged last year with a felony count of first-degree assault of a peace officer.
He was acquitted by a 12-member jury after a weeklong trial that wrapped up midday Friday. By 3:15 p.m., the jury had reached a verdict.
The encounter last June triggered rumors of police gunfire against Black men, which sparked several nights of unrest in St. Cloud.
Court documents said that Boose fled from police the evening of June 14 and, sometime during a tussle in the backyard on the city's south side, a gun went off — hitting officer Ryan Priebe in the right hand and Boose in the chin.
"Whoever fired that gun used deadly force," said Ole Tvedten, chief of the criminal division at the Stearns County Attorney's Office, during his closing statement. "We know where the bullet came from."
Tvedten argued if Boose pulled the trigger, the action was intentional and meets the legal definition of assault.
During the trial, Tvedten presented evidence that Boose's fingerprints were found on the magazine of the 9-millimeter handgun fired during the incident. Further evidence showed a mixture of two or more DNA profiles on the trigger that included one matching Boose but not Priebe, Tvedten said.
Boose did not testify and the defense did not call witnesses. Defense attorney Jason Migala argued the DNA evidence does not prove intention, which was required for Boose to be found guilty.
While the jury was able to watch brief squad car and Taser footage, there was no video evidence showing what was going on under Boose while he and Priebe were scuffling on the ground, Migala said.
Furthermore, a Taser wire was wrapped around the trigger — and dirt and grass were found on the gun, indicating it was being pushed into the ground during the incident. None of the circumstances can prove whether it was an accidental discharge or if someone pulled the trigger, Migala said.
"None of the evidence suggests Sumaree Boose pulled the trigger," Migala said.
Jenny Berg • 612-673-7299