Frustrations mount at city council meeting as investigation into police shooting continues

Community members found a platform to demand answers on this weekend's police shooting in north Minneapolis Wednesday, showing up to a City Council meeting to talk with officials and express their anger and sadness over the week's events.

The family of Thurman Blevins, 31, who was killed during a foot chase with several officers Saturday evening, took time at the meeting to plead with city leaders to release body camera video from the incident. 

"The end result, whether he had a gun in that alley--I don’t care," said a close cousin of Blevins who asked not to be identified. "I want to know why the police took it upon themselves to jump out the car, with a little baby and woman, there so aggressively in a community with their pistols drawn."

Mayor Jacob Frey said Tuesday he would push to release the footage once Blevins' family was consulted and key witnesses were interviewed, setting up a showdown with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The agency, tasked with looking into police shootings in the state of Minnesota, said Wednesday it would not be releasing any of the public data until their investigation is complete--a process that could take months. 

In an effort to better deal with similar situations in the future, council member Cam Gordon has floated an idea to give both the mayor and City Council control over the police. Currently the department only reports to the mayor.

Gordon said the idea was well received and could find its way onto a ballot as soon as this November as a charter amendment. 

"I think people also are getting used to the City Council doing more," Gordon said. "[People say], 'Can’t you change more policies?' And we can’t without some structural changes to our charter.”

The mayor was less enthusiastic about the proposal, saying in a statement that he was only made aware of the idea minutes before the meeting--and that Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo was never consulted.

“Effectively responding to the demands of policing requires an ability to receive clear – and at times quick – direction," Frey wrote. "That direction would be practically impossible with 14 cooks in the kitchen.”

As far as the investigation goes, the city's police union the BCA has already talked with several officers, while at least another full day of interviews still remain.

In a statement, the agency points out it is "required by law to establish witness accounts, to obtain forensic and other analysis and to synthesize all the material before a report is provided to the county attorney's office."

Despite this, many at Wednesday's meeting demanded Frey release the video sooner, with a few even calling for the investigation to be taken out of the hands of the BCA. As of now, he's given no timeline for when the video may actually be released.

"I wish there were words that I could say to make you feel better, to make this community feel better, to bridge this horrible divide," Frey said. "I haven't found them."