Minneapolis cops: Feared for lives in shooting

Bodycam footage has been released showing the moment Minneapolis cops shot 31-year-old Thurman Blevins from behind, sparking outrage in the city and setting off protests and a police probe into the use of deadly force.

The police body-camera footage shows Minneapolis officers Kelly and Schmidt encounter Blevins on the afternoon of June 23. Analysis of the crime scene released by Hennepin County shows that one cartridge case was recovered near Blevins' body and was determined to have been fired by his gun. The officers end up chasing Blevins, who later pulls out what is revealed to be a loaded gun, and fatally shooting him in an alleyway.

Freeman's office also released a 21-page report further explaining the decision and concluding that Blevins "posed an immediate threat to the officers' safety".

Fortunately, the officers had body cameras that were turned on.

His statements were in prepared remarks that were handed out to the media. "No one wins today: A young man is dead, our officers face increasing criticism and scrutiny, and the community is devastated".

As regular readers know, there have been several controversial police shootings in Minneapolis in recent years.

"Officers Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt should be fired without pay and prosecuted to the full extent of the law", Brown said. The officer who shot Damond - an Australian woman killed last year - was charged with murder and manslaughter this year.

While the body camera footage is now released, this is just one part of an effort to bring greater transparency to these processes. As the officers pull up, one says, "He's got a gun!".

At Freeman's aborted news conference, Jeniffer Rohr, a friend of the Blevins family, criticized the officer heard saying "He's got a gun" as their squad vehicle rolled up to Blevins.

The officers were responding to a 911 call of a man firing a gun into the air and into the ground on the city's north side. "He's shooting off his gun and he looks intoxicated and that's just not safe around here", the caller stated.

The description: a black male with a black backpack and a bottle of gin.

Reports had come in about a "light-skinned" black man in his 30s, around six feet tall, wearing a "white or grey tank top" and carrying a "black backpack".

Frey said he chose to release the video because he believes transparency is, "a necessity in good governance".

"He's got a bottle of gin", Schmidt says. Both officers jump out.

He said the June 23 incident was a "tragic situation for the family and friends of Mr. Blevins, that does not take away from the fact that what happened was dictated by the actions of Mr. Blevins". He takes off down the street.

"Stop, stop! Put your hands up!". The officer shouts "Put your hands up, I will f-- shoot you!" multiple times before he eventually does open fire and strike Blevins.

Blevins yells back, "I didn't do nothing bro", "Please don't shoot" and "Leave me alone".

"You've got a gun", Schmidt responds, using an expletive to address the man.

Officer Schmidt yells: "Stop or I'll f***ing shoot". Blevins was shot after the pursuit turned down an alley.

"Homie, please", he trousers.

About 45 seconds into the chase, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Schmidt starts firing.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Thurman Blevins was fleeing from officers with a loaded handgun and had refused commands to stop and show his hands.

When an officer yells at Blevins that he sees Blevins has a gun, Blevins appears to reply, "I don't". They encounter Blevins sitting with a woman with a toddler.

The city released raw footage from both officers' cameras, as well as what it called a "stabilized" video that includes footage from both officers produced by the National Center for Audio and Video Forensics in Beverly Hills, California.

Schmidt's lawyer, Kevin Short, had a different interpretation.

  • Jon Douglas