Frey: Expedited release of video in Blevins case is progress in transparency

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What took the better part of a year in other Minneapolis officer-involved shooting cases happened in less than six weeks in the Thurman Blevins case.

The police body camera videos are out and the Hennepin County Attorney already made a charging decision. Neither of which would have happened so quickly without pressure from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. It’s a change that Frey says marks progress in the path to greater transparency.

“We are pleased that we were able to expedite the release of the body camera footage and the body cameras were both turned on and activated,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

The latest in the Blevins case was top of mind inside Mayor Frey’s office Monday, less than 24 hours after the release of the police body camera footage, which revealed the 31-year-old ran from officers with a gun in his hand.

The footage, witness testimony and Blevins’ case file led Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to decline charges against Officers Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt. Only a few hours after announcing that decision, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey took questions from Fox 9. 

When asked if the actions by police reflect how he would wants his neighborhood policed, Mayor Frey said, “As far as the content of the video, we can’t comment on the specifics because we currently have an internal affairs investigation going on.”

As for whether or not Blevins posed a threat, Mayor Frey wouldn’t say and instead stood firm on his effort to unveil the video only 36 days after the shooting.

“The body cameras were on, they were activated and I think what’s incumbent on all of us, in government, is to make sure we’re being transparent 100 percent of the time,” said Mayor Frey.

The speed at which officials released key details to the public in the Blevins case is a stark contrast compared to Minneapolis officer-involved shooting police cases in the recent past. In Justine Damond’s 2017 shooting death, the officers involved wore body cameras, but didn’t turn them on. A charging decision in Damond’s case came eight months after she was killed. In 2015, when police shot and killed Jamar Clark, the city’s body camera policy hadn’t yet been implemented.

“We’re proud that we were able to release the body camera footage in an expedited fashion,” said Mayor Frey. “Transparency is really critical and that’s the direction we’re going.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo in a statement said he accepts and respects Freeman’s decision not to charge the officers. As for their internal investigation, police and Mayor Frey say each case is unique. No word yet on when we can expect results of their internal probe.