Freeman announcement regarding Blevins shooting interrupted by family, protesters

July 30, 2018

An announcement by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman regarding the fatal police shooting of Thurman Blevins was interrupted by protesters and family Monday, who took over a news conference to decry his death.

“I don’t want the media to think we’re angry, we’re more so disgusted,” said Blevins’ cousin Sydnee Brown. “We’re disgusted by the government, we’re disgusted by the city of Minneapolis.”

Freeman was about two minutes into the news conference explaining the threshold for charging police officers before he was shouted down. After attempting to continue, he abruptly turned and left. Afterward, activists and family members demanded that the officers involved be charged and took over the dais for several minutes before walking out chanting “Justice for June,” referencing Blevins’ nickname.

Freeman’s planned announcement came one day after the Police Department released the officers’ body-camera video showing them running after 31-year-old Thurman Blevins and ordering him to give himself up and drop his handgun.

Instead, Blevins keeps running and at one point turns toward the officers and appears to raise the gun in their direction. The head of the police officers union said Blevins fired one shot at the pursuing officers, prompting them to return fire. Blevins went down in the alley and died with a handgun next to him.

Kroll said officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly “were forced to fire at the suspect only after he pointed a gun and fired at the officers.” He said the shot did not hit either officer.

“As Blevins’ gun comes around, you see he fired, it hits the pavement in the alley, the round hits the pavement right in the direction of officer Kelly,” Kroll said. “I do know all the officer shots occurred within 4 seconds.”

Kroll said the officers exhibited “nothing short of excellent police work” while encountering and chasing Blevins before they opened fire on him in a residential alley in the 4700 block between Aldrich and Bryant avenues N.

The video was released at the direction of Mayor Jacob Frey, who said afterward that what it showed was “traumatic.” The mayor declined to address the actions of Blevins or the officers.

Kroll said he was disappointed that Frey didn’t back his employees, but “you have to pander to the ultraleft.”

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman also has scheduled a news conference for later Monday morning in connection with Blevins’ death.

The shooting is being investigated by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which will turn over its findings to Freeman for his office to determine whether the officers were justified in their use of force.

Brown said Sunday night after the release of the video, that officers were not in danger and they didn’t treat him as a human being.

The release of the video so soon after the shooting comes as police departments in the Twin Cities and beyond cope with public backlash over the shooting of men of color during encounters with officers. In this and other shootings, activists have demanded rapid release of police bodycam video, believing the images will reveal that officers are too quick to shoot suspects.

The death of Blevins, who was black, at the hands of white officers raised tensions and sparked protests, as have police killings of other black men in recent years in the Twin Cities.

Andy Mannix • 612-673-4036

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