St. Paul and Minneapolis cops exonerated in separate shootings

Henry Pan/MSR News Minnesota CAIR executive director Jaylani Hussein looks on as Bayle Gelle father of Dolal Idd expresses his disappointment with the Dakota Attorney’s decision.

Prosecutors refuse to file charges

On Friday, Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena concluded that Minneapolis police officers  Darcy Klund, Paul Huynh, and Jason Schmitt were justified in killing Dolal Idd in December of 2020, at a crowded Holiday gas station on the corner of 36th Street and Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis. Keena claimed she based her decision on the fact that Idd disobeyed police orders and shot at them first.

In St. Paul, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison—also on Friday—said fired St. Paul officer Anthony Dean will not be charged with a crime for shooting Joseph Washington. Last November, Dean shot Washington four times in the abdomen and legs after he climbed totally unclothed out of a dumpster while attempting to evade police.

Washington’s ex-girlfriend accused him of assaulting her and forcing her at gunpoint to drive to St. Paul from Lakeville where he crashed the car, after which police were able to intervene. He has been charged with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, and second-degree assault. 

Both cases caused much concern and consternation, especially in the Black community as they occurred while protests were still being held in support of justice for George Floyd who had been murdered in late May of 2020 by then-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin.

Officer Dean was dismissed from the St. Paul police force not long after the incident by St. Paul police chief Todd Axtell after he viewed a videotape of the incident. “When I ask myself if the officer’s actions on Saturday night were reasonable and necessary, the only answer I can come up with is, ‘No,’ ” Axtell said at a press conference announcing the firing.

“Officer Dean stated that he could not see Washington’s hands while in the dumpster, which caused him concern given a report of a knife and Washington’s assertion he had a gun,” wrote Ellison in a memo.

In his statement explaining why he reached a conclusion absolving Dean, AG Ellison surmised that unclothed Washington had the potential to inflict bodily harm, and even death, on Dean and the other officers present and thus his actions were justifiable. Police found no weapons on Washington’s nude body.

Axtell, however, seemed to hold on to his initial view of the situation. He wrote in a press release, “Unfortunately, he made a terrible mistake. His actions didn’t align with the policies or standards of the St. Paul Police Department. I have an obligation to our city and agency to hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards, even and especially when it’s difficult, as it was in this case.”

In Minneapolis

A press conference was held by those who have been demanding justice for Idd since last December and who disagreed with the decision to let the killers of Idd go free. Idd according to police, had an affidavit issued for his arrest because he had been selling firearms illegally.

Police had sought to set the victim up by having a confidential informant attempt to purchase a MAC-10 semi-automatic weapon from him. Police nor the BCA revealed if the weapon was found in Idd’s car. No guns were found at his parents’ residence where he was living at the time. Law enforcement have not indicated either before Idd was killed or afterward that he had a history of violence.

Police said they ordered Idd to halt after approaching him, but he tried to escape in his vehicle. This narrative does not appear to match the video that police released not long after the shooting,  which appeared to show the victim totally blocked in by police with no path for flight.

Upon seeing the video, Reid Rossell, a glass expert who has worked with glass for over 40 years, took to social media to explain that “the body-cam video doesn’t prove what they say it proves. Car glass is tempered. It is molded and heat-treated to create tremendous inner force and pressure, over 10,000 psi. Any projectile damage coming from outside or inside causes the glass to expand and explode outside the radius of the curve. Outside the car.”

In other words, the glass falling outside the car did not conclusively prove that it was from a weapon fired by Idd from inside the car. It could have been glass falling as a result of the police firing into the vehicle.

“We are standing in front of the Governor’s Mansion because we want the attorney general to take over this case or have the governor appoint a special prosecutor,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR Minnesota. “The justice system in this country is broken and until we change it we will continue to suffer these injustices.”

Bayle Gelle, Idd’s father, said at the press conference that he would continue to press for justice for his son. He and his family immigrated to this country from Somalia.

Gelle said that he knows his son well and does not believe that his son would have shot at police. He also said that there was never any real evidence proving his son shot at police but only the video in which the police told people what they were seeing.

Concerned citizen and justice advocate Toussaint Morrison in his remarks pointed out that White suspects who have either attacked or shot at police or committed heinous crimes are taken into custody without incident, but Black suspects are shot on the spot. He called the police who shot Idd, “cowboys” and “vigilantes” and labeled the BCA “the bureau of cop apologists.”

Morrison said at one of the many community protests that “regardless of what you think about what [Idd has] done in the past or who he is, just give him his day in court, because right now, what you’re seeing is the MPD acting as the judge, jury, and executioner.”

 “The cops, in this case, acted like cowboys and put the public in danger when they shot and killed Idd at a crowded gas station in Minneapolis,” said Nekima Levy–Armstrong activist and civil rights lawyer. She said they not only killed Idd, but police later terrorized the victim’s family by coming to their home late in the night and handcuffing most of the family while searching the home, destroying property in the process.