Family of man shot by St. Paul PD demands release of body camera video

St. Paul police say their body cameras were rolling as they fatally shot a man Monday night. Now, his family and local activists are demanding authorities release that footage.

Standing mere feet away from where 24-year-old Howard Johnson was shot Monday, activists and his family held a vigil in his honor and demanded d to see video from his final moments.

"He has twin boys that are 4-years-old right now that are going to grow up without a father. I'm going to not have my child. I can never see my baby again," said Johnson’s mother, Monique Johnson.

At the vigil outside St. Paul Saloon on Hudson Road, Johnson's loved ones called him their protector, "the life of the party," and a father who took care of his family.

"I just love him so much and hate how it happened. Now, my kids got to grow up and not have a father," said Iris Silerio, the mother of Johnson’s twin 4-year-old sons.

St. Paul police said they were called to the intersection of Hudson Road and Earl Street after a woman told 911 operators she had been attacked by an armed man. Officers on scene said they saw a man running with a gun and they believe he was trying to carjack someone, so they hit him with their squad car. 

Police said they got out of the car and the man still had the gun in his hand, so they fired multiple shots. Johnson was taken to Regions Hospital, where he died.

However, at the vigil, his family members said the details don’t add up and demanded to see the body camera footage from the shooting.

"They keep talking about transparency. But why does it take so long for the body camera footage to be released to the family? It's happened so many times that there should be a process where his mother can see this. If their truth is their truth, then let it be seen," said Johnson’s cousin, Rea Smith.

The officers involved are on leave, per protocol, and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has taken over the case.

Mayor Melvin Carter tweeted following the shooting, writing in part, "I am working closely with Chief Henry and the BCA to ensure a thorough, timely, and transparent investigation will occur, as our community has agreed to engage in. We are committed to the release of body cam footage as quickly as possible."

During the vigil, Black Lives Matter Minnesota called on authorities to release not just the body camera footage but also video from the nearby businesses.

"There's cameras all over. We want to see all the footage from all the cameras immediately. There should be no reason to wait," said Trahern Crews, the founder of Black Lives Matter Minnesota.