Minneapolis police release personnel files of officers in Thurman Blevins shooting

The Minneapolis Police Department has released the redacted personnel files of the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of Thurman Blevins. The files include the employment history, training records and awards and commendations for Officers Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt.

Blevins, 31, was shot and killed on Saturday, June 23 after the officers chased him into an alley on the 4700 block of Bryant Avenue North. Accounts of the incident from Minneapolis police and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension say Blevins had a gun, but some witnesses dispute that. 

Prior to joining the MPD, Officer Schmidt was a range master at Gander Mountain Academy in Lakeville. He listed his job duties as: “Manage the daily operations of the live firing range; provide firearms and use of force training to students who range from civilians to law enforcement departments; lead the development program for Academy Instructors; and manage the facility’s OSHA EPA compliance program.”

Schmidt was named Officer of the Month in March 2017 and February 2018. In May 2017 he received the Chief’s Award of Merit for his role with the department’s Bicycle Rapid Response Team. In March 2015 he was given the Department Award of Merit for investigating a shooting that led to the recovery of a gun stolen out of Aitkin County. The recovery of the weapon helped solve a shooting and stabbing case from Aitkin County.

Officer Schmidt's personnel file also details a July 5, 2015 “person with a gun" call on Lyndale Avenue South in which Schmidt responded and took the suspect into custody without incident. A witness to the incident called Minneapolis police to say she was "absolutely stunned by the professionalism maintained by the officers."

Officer Kelly was part of the Minneapolis Police Department’s initial body-worn camera test group. For his participation in the pilot program, Kelly was given a Department Award of Merit in October 2015. Kelly earned another Award of Merit in August 2015 for helping apprehend an armed car stereo suspect who was suspected to be high on PCP. Kelly has also earned two Lifesaving Awards for helping revive unconscious individuals, including a possible heroin overdose victim.

Prior to joining the MPD, Officer Kelly was with the Lower Sioux Police Department in Morton, Minnesota. He also held positions with police departments in Anoka and St. Francis.

Schmidt joined the department in 2014 and Kelly in 2013. Employee complaint data released earlier in the week shows both officers also have complaints against them, but most were closed without discipline. Officer Schmidt still has one open complaint in his file.

The shooting of Thurman Blevins remains under investigation by the Minnesota BCA. Earlier in the week, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the body camera footage captured by the officers involved will be released as soon as two things were completed: the family of Thurman Blevins must be consulted and the BCA must complete their interviews with key witnesses. He said the interviews with known key witnesses have already begun. But, the BCA said it will release all public data once the case is closed, “as we would in any other investigation.” 

The BCA says the investigation is its “highest priority” and it will be completed as soon as possible.