Vikings coach Kevin O’Connell on Jamal Mitchell: ‘We lost a special human being’

The Minnesota Vikings are wrapping up their offseason workout program this week at TCO Performance Center.

Tuesday, Kevin O’Connell stepped away from the football field for something far bigger than football. He attended the memorial service for Jamal Mitchell, the Minneapolis police officer killed in the line of duty in late May.

Mitchell was part of the Minneapolis Police Department’s game day staff that worked Vikings’ home games at U.S. Bank Stadium. He was often positioned just outside the Delta club, where O’Connell, coaches and players enter the field from the locker room. O’Connell said Tuesday he felt obligated to show support for Mitchell and the Minneapolis Police Department.

While it was his first memorial service for a police officer, O’Connell said he has law enforcement in his family.

"First and foremost, my heart goes out to his family and the Minneapolis Police Department. Just such an unbelievable tragedy, but for me to be there to support him, it was really a couple reasons. A) I wanted to be there to support the law enforcement community in a really tough time. The more and more I learned about Jamal and what he was all about and his intentions on joining the Minneapolis Police Department, it was something that hit a cord for me coming from law enforcement in my family," O’Connell said. 

Mitchell is the 11th police officer or first responder to be killed in the line of duty in Minnesota and Wisconsin in a little more than a year.

"He was there for the better part of my two years, so I felt somewhat of a connection. A high-five or a fist bump here and there, walking in and out. Just to put the face with the name and know that we lost a special human being, father, and a guy that really lived his whole life for others. It was just important if for no other reason than to just pay my respects and be really in awe of the law enforcement community coming together in a really tough time. Something I’ve never had a chance to see before in-person. Incredible tragedy, you hope it’s not something that continues to happen as much as it has," O’Connell said.