Bodycam footage released in St. Paul police shooting

St. Paul police have released the body camera footage of the officer involved shooting that killed a woman on Monday night.

The bodycam footage shows the moments leading up to the shooting. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) says 41-year-old Pepsi Lee Heinl "rapidly" reached under a blanket, pulled out a handgun and pointed it at officers, which the body camera footage shows. 

The footage then shows the three officers involved firing at Heinl, who the BCA said died from multiple gunshot wounds. 

READ MORE: St. Paul woman killed by police named, officers involved identified

The BCA named the three St. Paul police officers involved in the shooting while also quantifying their time in law enforcement. The following officers are all on standard critical incident leave:

  • Chiking Chazonkhueze fired his department handgun and has three and a half years of law enforcement experience.
  • Chee Lao fired his department handgun and has three months of law enforcement experience.
  • Yengkong Lor fired his department handgun and has three years of law enforcement experience.

According to authorities, the officers responded to a home on the 1100 block of Rose Avenue East in St. Paul on reports of a suicidal woman. 

The woman's mother then called officers to a back room of the house, where they saw Heinl sitting on the floor and asked if she needed help. Heinl then reached under a blanket, pulled out a handgun and stood up and pointed it at officers, the BCA said. 

Officers Chazonhueze, Lao and Lor then opened fire at Heinl, who died at the scene despite life-saving efforts from police. 

"Our thoughts go out to the family and friends of Pepsi Lee Heinl. No one wanted this to happen; not the families or our officers. This is a tragedy that will stay with all of them for the rest of their lives," said St. Paul Police Chief Axel Henry. "What happened Monday night not only illustrates the unpredictable nature first responders are asked to navigate every day but should also serve as a call to ignite us all to come together to find ways to help our people in crisis."

The BCA said it is continuing its investigation and will present its findings to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office once the investigation is complete.

READ MORE: St. Paul mayor, city council call for bodycam footage after woman fatally shot

"My prayers and sincerest condolences are with the family and loved ones of Pepsi Lee Heinl as they navigate her tragic death. Our entire community shares in grieving this heartbreaking loss," said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. "Any time our officers respond to an emergency, they seek the safest outcome possible. I am grateful for their quick response in coming to the aid of a neighbor in crisis, and responding to a situation that could have been even more deadly. We hold our police to the highest standard of accountability and transparency, which is why we are releasing the body-worn camera footage immediately after the family had the opportunity to review it. We value the urgency in which community members called on us to release it, and appreciate the BCA’s commitment to a timely review, allowing us to reach this point within days."

The St. Paul Police Department released the full version of the body camera footage, which can be watched here. WARNING: The video contains moments that could be disturbing for viewers. Discretion is advised.

If you or someone you know is suffering a mental health crisis, there is help available 24/7 through the suicide and crisis lifeline. Call or text 988, or chat online here.