St. Paul police release body camera video of officer-involved shooting of Ronald Davis

The St. Paul Police Department released the body camera footage Tuesday of the fatal officer-involved shooting of 31-year-old Ronald Davis on Sept. 15. 

The incident began shortly before 6 p.m., when Davis rear-ended a St. Paul police squad car near the intersection on Thomas Avenue West and North Griggs Street. 

According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and St. Paul police, both men exited their vehicles and Davis confronted the officer, identified as Officer Steven Mattson. Davis ignored repeated commands to drop the knife and at one point during the encounter, Mattson fired his weapon, killing Davis. 

Mattson, who has been with the police department for less than a year, was uninjured and was wearing a body camera. He remains on standard administrative leave. 

Amid growing pressure for transparency, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell made the decision to release the body camera video—one of the fastest turnarounds of footage in the city’s recent history. Last year, he released body camera video in the officer-involved shooting of Billy Hughes 12 days after it occurred. He made the footage public in an effort to dispel rumors and calm protests. 

The St. Paul Police Department released the body camera video from the fatal Sept. 15 officer-involved shooting of Ronald Davis. (FOX 9 Minneapolis-St. Paul)

At a press conference Tuesday, Axtell said he could not stand by “knowing that a good officer, and all of our officers, are being assailed by people who don’t have the facts.” 

Axtell called the body camera video from the Davis shooting “difficult to watch” and said his heart goes out to Davis’ family. He added that Officer Mattson’s life will also never be the same as a result of this tragic event. 

“I remain hopeful that quickly releasing this video will allow us to move forward with mature discourse about how such tragedies can be prevented in the future—without having to wade through the waters of irresponsible accusations of murder, calculated cries of injustice and threats made against an officer who had no choice but to defend himself against an immediate and violent attack,” Axtell said. 

The BCA is still investigating the deadly shooting. The BCA previously said it has no position regarding police releasing the body camera video. However, once it the video is released, the bureau said its investigators would not be able to ensure the integrity of statements from witnesses who come forward after they have seen the video. 

In a press conference, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said the entire community is mourning following the release of the video. He said he hopes the release of the video helps minimize rumors and speculation.

"I see Officer Mattson defending himself, while retreating and as a son of a police officer, I can't say that I can see anything beyond that we could have expected him to do," said Mayor Carter.

Once the BCA's investigation is complete, the agency will turn over its findings to the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, which will determine whether or not to pursue charges.

Later Tuesday afternoon, activists spoke out about the shooting and called for an independent investigation.