MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Protesters interrupted a news conference by Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman that was scheduled to announce a charging decision in the June 23 officer-involved shooting of Thurman Blevins by Minneapolis police. Freeman didn’t get to his analysis or decision in the case before community activists and the Blevins family took control of the podium. He later issued a press release to announce no criminal charges will be filed against Officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly.
Freeman exited the room after his words were drowned out by the shouting of a group gathered in the back of the room. That group, including members of Thurman Blevins' extended family, eventually took control of the podium.
"We’re tired. We’re going to tear this city up," one said. "Black people are tired of being hunted down."
"The family is hurt, the family is devastated," Blevins' cousin, Sydnee Brown said. "I don’t want the media to think we are angry. We’re not angry, we’re disgusted by the leaders of the world and Minnesota. We want the cops arrested in 48 hours because this was murder. Maybe we need to start changing some laws here in the United States.
Union president: Blevins fired at police
Earlier Monday, Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll said Blevins pointed a gun in the direction of officers and fired a shot into the pavement before he was shot and killed. 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 said the shot fired by Blevins was captured on Minneapolis police body-worn camera footage released Sunday night. He 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.”
Body camera videos released
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.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo released a statement, saying he accepts and respects Freeman's decision not to charge the two officers.
"As this case still remains under internal investigation, the Minneapolis Police Department is unable to publicly comment on any facet of this incident," the MPD statement said. "While Chief Arradondo is currently prohibited by data practice law from commenting on the specifics of this case he will continue to remain engaged, active and listen throughout the community. After completion of the criminal and internal investigation, Chief Arradondo will be able to speak about the case. We thank you for your continued patience in this matter."
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.