Courtesy: Minneapolis Police Department
MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll says Thurman Blevins pointed a gun in the direction of officers and fired a shot into the pavement before he was shot and killed. This is the first time there has been any assertion that Blevins fired at police during the incident.
Kroll said Officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly “were forced to fire at the suspect only after he pointed a gun and fired at the officers.”
“At that point, he’s fair game,” Kroll said.
Kroll couldn’t point to the exact moment in the video that he says Blevins fired a shot, but said the bullet hit the pavement. Kroll said a casing was recovered and “that will come out in the investigation.”
"I don't know the exact seconds of shots, but as Blevins' gun comes around you'll see he fired, it hits the pavement in the alley, the round hits the pavement right in the direction of Officer Kelly," Kroll said.
Kroll's assertion that Blevins fired his gun was backed up by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman's final report on the case. According to the report:
No criminal charges will be filed against the officers involved in the June 23 fatal shooting of Thurman Blevins, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced in a news release Monday. Freeman made the announcement in a written news release after protesters interrupted a scheduled news conference.
"The Federation maintained from the start that the officers' actions during this incident were heroic. The body camera footage exemplifies this," Kroll said. "The officers did exactly what the public expects them to do. They responded to a 911 call of someone shooting a gun. They located the suspect, gave numerous orders for him to comply, pursued the suspect as he fled. They were forced to fire at the suspect only after he pointed a gun and fired at the officers. The officers deserve Minneapolis Police Department's highest award, the Medal of Honor, and they deserve the respect of the population they are sworn to protect."
The Minneapolis Police Department released the officer body camera videos of the June 23 shooting Sunday night. The videos from the body-worn cameras of Officer Justin Schmidt and Officer Ryan Kelly show the shooting death of Thurman Blevins in a north Minneapolis alley. The footage appears to show the officers chasing Blevins before shooting and killing him. The videos also show Blevins was carrying a firearm at the time of his death.
“Police officers never want to be forced to fire their weapons. Sadly, Mr. Blevins gave them no other options," Kroll said. "Blevins was shooting a gun in a residential area, he resisted officers, fled, pointed a gun at them and fired. This is consistent with his criminal history. By the age of 31, Blevins racked up six felony convictions. Among them, fleeing police, assaulting an officer, narcotics possession, and felon in possession of a pistol. At 31 years of age that’s quite a criminal history."
According to the Justice for Thurman Blevins Facebook page, a protest is planned for Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Hennepin County Government Center.
According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Thurman Blevins was sitting on a curb and immediately fled when officers pulled up. Police reported he was carrying a gun at the time.
Sometime during the ensuing chase officers fired their weapons, striking and killing the man community members later identified as Thurman Blevins. The chase lasted for several blocks and Blevins was pronounced dead at the scene.
According to authorities, the incident began when an anonymous caller reported a man was walking around with a gun on the 4700 block of Bryant Avenue North. The caller "provided very detailed information about the appearance and descriptions," according to an MPD spokesperson.
Police then received a second call of a person walking and firing a silver 9mm handgun into the air and subsequently into the ground.
Blevins was reportedly sitting with another woman near the intersection of 48th and Camden Avenues North a short time later when officers arrived, and ran away as they began exiting their vehicles.
Both officers involved in the incident have been placed on standard administrative leave. The shooting remains under investigation.