Police release body camera video of Blevins shooting

July 30, 2018

Minneapolis police body camera video released Sunday night shows one of the officers repeatedly warning an armed Thurman Blevins to put his hands up as the man was chased in a residential neighborhood last month and then shot by police.

“Shots fired! Shots fired! One down,” Officer Ryan Kelly is heard on the video saying as he trails partner Justin Schmidt.

The imagery from Kelly’s video shows Blevins with a handgun and running from police. The video appears to show the gun in Blevins’ hand shortly before shots were fired.

In response to calls from citizens and all 13 City Council members, Frey said on July 20 that he would release the video by month’s end. That decision came after he met with Blevins family members, who in turn protested outside the mayor’s office and demanded the video’s immediate release.

Blevins, 31, was shot and killed during a short chase on June 23 by officers Kelly and Schmidt, who had responded to a 911 call about a man firing a handgun in the air and into the ground.

Frey said three days later he would have police release the video from body cameras worn by the officers after the family was consulted and key witnesses were interviewed by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), which is investigating the shooting.

The officers — Kelly, hired by the department in October 2013, and Schmidt, hired in July 2014 — are on standard paid administrative leave.

While Blevins relatives and several witnesses have said he had only a bottle in his hands and was running from police before the shooting, Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation, countered that the shooting was “nothing short of heroic activity.” Kroll said the officers gave Blevins “numerous commands” to drop his weapon before they fired.

A transcript of the 911 call was released by the city four weeks ago revealing that the caller pleaded with the dispatcher to send help.

Court records show that Blevins had several criminal convictions over the past decade. He was convicted in 2010 of being a felon in possession of a firearm and of fleeing Minneapolis police in 2008 and 2012. He also pleaded guilty in 2015 to one count of fourth-degree assault for spitting at and kicking a Minneapolis Park Police officer. A minor drug possession charge was dismissed June 8.

The Police Department overhauled its body camera policy last summer in the wake of another police shooting, the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond.

The death of Blevins, who was black, at the hands of police in a residential alley in the 4700 block between Aldrich and Bryant avenues N., sparked tensions and protests, as have the killings of other black men in recent years in the Twin Cities by officers, namely Jamar Clark in Minneapolis and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights. The officers in Clark’s death were not charged, while the officer who shot Castile was charged, put on trial and acquitted.

A lawsuit filed last week in Damond’s death on behalf of her relatives contended that the officers involved, Mohamed Noor and Matthew Harrity, had failed to activate their body cameras as part of a “conspiracy” to cover up evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Noor has been charged with murder in Damond’s death.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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