No charges against Minn. officers in black man’s death

Youssef Rddad
Associated Press

Minneapolis – Two Minneapolis police officers who shot and killed a black man last month were justified in using deadly force, a prosecutor announced Monday, saying the man was fleeing police and turned toward them with a loaded gun before he was shot.

In this June 25, 2018 file photo, a memorial is set up in the alley where Thurman Blevins was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in Minneapolis.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Thurman Blevins had refused commands to stop and show his hands, and was clearly a danger to the officers and community.

“Their decision to use deadly force against Mr. Blevins under those circumstances was authorized,” Freeman said, adding that the officers will not be criminally charged.

His statements were in prepared remarks that were handed out to the media. Freeman had tried to make the announcement during a news conference, but he was shouted down by Blevins’ friends and family members. They argue Blevins was no threat to anybody and was just sitting with a woman and his child.

“He was forced to run away from his family so they wouldn’t shoot him down in his own community in front of his kid,” said Sydnee Brown, a cousin.

Freeman’s decision came after the city released the officers’ body-camera video late Sunday. Freeman’s report says Officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly were responding to a 911 call of a man firing a gun into the air June 23 on the city’s north side. Body camera videos show them pulling their cruiser up and Blevins seated on a curb near a woman with a child in a stroller. As the officers pull up, one says, “He’s got a gun!” and they jump from the squad car.

Schmidt yells “Put your (expletive) hands up now!” as Blevins runs. Schmidt also yells, “Put your hands up! I will (expletive) shoot you!” Kelly yells, “Stop or I’ll shoot!” repeatedly.

In a chase that takes less than a minute, Blevins yells back, “I didn’t do nothing bro,” “Please don’t shoot” and “Leave me alone.” An enhanced version of the videos has a red circle drawn around what appears to be a gun in Blevins’ right hand, as he looks over his left shoulder at the officers.

After the chase turns down an alley, Blevins is shot, still running.

At Freeman’s aborted news conference, Jeniffer Rohr, a friend of the Blevins family, criticized the officer who said “He’s got a gun.”

“He just gave himself a license to shoot Mr. Blevins,” Rohr said. She said Blevins was “assassinated.” Others were upset that Blevins was shot while running away.

In interviews with investigators, Schmidt said he feared for his life when he saw Blevins take his gun out of his pocket.