The City of Minneapolis released the body camera footage of the shooting of Thurman “Junior” Blevins Sunday evening.
Blevins, 31, was shot and killed in the Camden neighborhood by Minneapolis Police Department Officers (MPD) Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt on June 23 following a 911 call of someone shooting a handgun in the area.
The video starts with the officers approaching Blevins, who is seen sitting on a curb with a woman and child. “He’s got a bottle of gin,” one officer can be heard saying. Then an officer says, “He’s got a gun!” and the officers get out of the car and order Blevins to put his hands up.
Upon being approached by the police, Blevins gets up and runs away and a foot chase ensues. During the chase, Schmidt can be heard telling Blevins, “I will [expletive] shoot you,” and “Stop or I’ll shoot.”
In the middle of the chase, Blevins asks the officers to stop and says he didn’t do anything. Schmidt says, “You’ve got a gun mother[expletive],” to which Blevins replies, “No, I don’t.”
Moments before Blevins is fatally shot, he can be heard saying, “Please don’t shoot me; leave me alone,” before multiple shots ring out.
“Shots fired, shots fired; one down,” Kelly says in the video. More officers then arrive on the scene and one approaches Blevins and appears to kick a gun away from him as he lays on the ground.
The MPD released the raw video from both police officers, as well as a video that was stabilized and analyzed by a third-party entity contracted by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). The video was slowed down at various points when it appeared to show Blevins with a gun, including at the time he is shot.
[See the stabilized footage of the Blevins’ shooting here. WARNING: the video contains graphic content].
At a press conference Sunday night following the release of the tapes, Mayor Jacob Frey said the release of the video was “in the interest of full transparency” and that transparency is a necessity for “good governance.”
Frey also said that he first saw the raw footage late in the evening on June 23 and the stabilized footage this afternoon. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he could not comment on the video as it is part of an active investigation.
The release of the tapes early in a BCA investigation is a first in recent history for the City of Minneapolis. Traditionally, officials have waited until after the BCA — the state agency that investigates all police-involved shootings — has completed its investigation.
In this case, Mayor Frey put an early emphasis on the body camera footage immediately after the shooting, confirming that both officers had their body cameras on and active during the incident. Frey said that the early release of the tapes was contingent on consultation with the Blevins’ family and the completion of BCA interviews with witnesses.
After mounting pressure from the Blevins family, community members, and all 13 city council members who called for the immediate release of the video, Frey last week said that the footage would likely be released by the end of July.
The Justice for Thurman Blevins Jr Facebook page responded to the video by stating: “Thurman Blevins begged for his life not to be taken by the Minneapolis Police Department Justin Schmidt.” They went on to call for the officers to be prosecuted “to the fullest degree of the law.”
A protest is set for Tuesday, July 31 at 4:30 pm at the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis.
Check back for updates as this story continues to develop.