The Minneapolis Police Department released bodycam footage Sunday showing what happened when two officers shot and killed 31-year-old Thurman Blevins on June 23 in north Minneapolis.
The choice to release the footage came from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, after pressure from citizens and all 13 members of the Minneapolis City Council. “We needed to act with full transparency and making sure we’re honest, even if the truth is difficult,” said Frey to the Star Tribune.
The bodycam footage shows officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly pulling up to where Blevins is sitting on a curb, and one of them saying, “He’s got a gun!” At this point, Blevins starts to run away and the officers pursue him. Throughout the chase, Blevins and the officers can be heard going back and forth about whether he has a gun.
“I didn’t do nothing, bro,” Blevins says.
“You’ve got a gun,” Schmidt says in response. Blevins tries to deny this, and Schmidt insists he has a gun, saying, “Yes, you do. Put it down! I will fucking shoot you!”
Blevins can also be heard pleading with the officers not to shoot. Less than 45 seconds into the chase, officers can be seen firing more than a dozen shots at Blevins from behind. He quickly falls to the ground, and in the “enhanced” video released by the police, a handgun laying next to his body is circled.
One of Blevins’ cousins, Sydnee Brown, says the video confirms what she already thought, that Blevins was not actually threatening the police. “He didn’t deserve to die,” Brown said to the Star Tribune.
On the other side of the argument, Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation, said the officers’ actions were “nothing short of heroic.” Schmidt’s lawyer also commented on the footage, saying to KSTP, “Hopefully, the public learned a lesson to wait for all the facts and video to come out before vilifying officers.”
The video does not appear to have changed many minds about whether the shooting was justified, even though Blevins’ back was to the officers at the time he was shot. According to the Root, both officers involved have had complaints brought against them previously. All five of the complaints against Kelly were closed without discipline, as were two brought against Schmidt. One complaint against Schmidt is still open, but details are not available to the public. Both officers are currently on paid administrative leave.
H/T the Root