In the matter of Thurman Blevins…

On the June 23, 2018, Thurman Blevins became a casualty of an officer-involved shooting in America’s continuing war of fear that causes some police to shoot and kill.

The military calls for “intel” prior to action. How can police acquire a rapid information acquisition method that would have told them that Blevins was a young man saddened by the funeral that week of his half-sister. How could they know that he had been drinking and had an empty bottle in one hand and an empty pistol in the other from shooting in the air and shooting into the ground?

There has been much written and talked about regarding this tragedy. And then, as if nothing happened, silence has descended with the sentiment to “let’s just all move on.” How is that possible for his loved ones?

During the week of July 9, there were community-wide meetings called by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), that were held Monday through Thursday as part of the BCA’s investigation. The meetings took place at Webber Park Community Center in North Minneapolis.

BCA Superintendent Drew Evans spoke to the community, but did not talk about the particulars of the investigation. He only spoke about how the BCA uses its authority to investigate officer-involved shootings in Minneapolis.

In the days since the death of Blevins, questions have been asked about why the BCA took control of the investigation, with some saying the agency is not to be trusted. The skeptical response is puzzling, as some of the very people holding press conferences, demanding information, and condemning the BCA were the same ones who agreed in 2015 that BCA investigations were the way they wanted to go.

Here is what they got, given that 2015 decision:

  • BCA took control of the investigation and then gave the case to the county attorney.
  • The county attorney has given no time limit for the completion of the case.
  • And, even though Mayor Frey said on June 25 that he would be releasing the body cam footage within a couple of days, the county attorney said there would be no release until the investigation is completed.
  • Then, the county attorney again blindsided the mayor by stating that at least 39 police officers will first have to be interrogated, which could take at least a month and half.

And, in the meantime, the questions by the public are mounting:

  • How many times did the police shoot Mr. Blevins?
  • What kind of medical attention, if any, did Mr. Blevins receive at the scene, and then later while laying in the hospital with his life in the balance? Put another way, was Mr. Blevins allowed to “bleed out?”
  • What did the two officers, Mr. Schmidt and Mr. Kelly, say to Mr. Blevins – before the chase, during the chase, and as they fired upon him causing his life to be lost?

Again, decisions have consequences.

As of the writing of this column, these questions remain unanswered and there is no indication as to when they will be answered.

Quite simply, the family, community, and all of us, are owed a greater level of transparency and honesty. That is what this is all about. The African American community and the family should not have to hold their collective breaths regarding receiving information.

Stay tuned.