Arabella Yarbrough thought she waited too long to call the police on Tekle Sundberg for stalking her.
“He rode on my car!” yelled an anguished Yarbrough when asked by activists about what Tekle did to her in the past. Around 200 of them gathered at her apartment building just north of Franklin Avenue, where Sundberg also lived, to protest Sundberg’s death by Minneapolis police on July 16.
“When someone is stalking you … I left it alone, I could’ve called the police and reported it but then I would have put a Black innocent man in jail because of mental illness and there ain’t telling what would have happened,” said Yarbrough. “So I left it alone. And this is what happens when I leave s*** alone.”
What happened on Wednesday, July 13, left her no choice.
Sundberg fired a gun, several of its bullets piercing through Yarbrough’s kitchen and bedroom as she was preparing dinner for her and her two children. She called 911 and considered firing in the direction of the bullets because she has a permit to carry.
“He’s been having issues with me and like, stalking me cause I won’t give him attention and I don’t know if he’s been upset lately and just wanted to shoot through,” said Yarbrough during the 911 call as she worried about whether or not her son would die. The transcript showed Yarbrough said Tekle asked her out on a date, which she rejected.
Sundberg, however, was not arrested.
But he ultimately was shot dead by two Minneapolis police officers using sniper rifles, and its crisis response team—and apparently, Sundberg’s parents, Mark and Cindy Sundberg—were forced to stand down for the most part because he had a weapon, as they said during the protest.
“Why would you call them to keep them down there? Why couldn’t they come down here with the negotiation team that you’ve so supposedly, and so ever so kindly, we’re working alongside,” said a distressed Kelsey Sundberg, Tekle’s older sister who is a social worker and has experience working with people experiencing mental health crises.
Wednesday the city of Minneapolis released transcripts showing what transpired the evening before Tekle died. Police planned to fire tear gas into the apartment to apprehend him alive and had shot 40-millimeter rubber bullets into his apartment to bring down the curtains in Tekle’s unit.
The City also released four segments of body camera footage documenting the events leading to the killing on Wednesday. The first segment shows a hysterical Yarbrough running away from bullets being fired by Tekle, followed several seconds later by her two kids.
Another segment released by the City shows Tekle hanging outside of his apartment window, partly unclothed and speaking incoherently, apparently with someone on the phone with loud music playing in the background as police officers repeated demands to come out with his hands up.
“We don’t want to hurt you; we just want to go home,” said Sergeant Kelley.
Tekle then goes on to throw items out of the window, and someone—apparently one of the two officers—fires a shot because they said they see a gun, in addition to a cell phone.
It is unclear if Tekle actually had a gun while he was shot. That’s why the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is asking those who filmed the shooting as it happened to provide the full video online.
Meanwhile, Yarbrough, who was fired from her job because she was unable to retrieve her laptop from her home as it is considered a crime scene, is homeless along with her two sons. Her sister started a GoFundMe for her, which raised over $60,000 as of this writing.
Activists at the protest reiterated that the two should not be pit against one another, instead saying if Tekle’s mental health needs were met, none of this would have happened.
“It is not Tekle against [Arabella] because what happened was very fearful for her. This is why we say that mental health needs to be addressed. And this is why we don’t need the police showing up for these types of situations,” said Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence founder Toshira Garraway at the demonstration.
Anyone who recorded the moment Tekle Sundberg was shot and killed by Minneapolis Police can upload it at https://bureauofappmn.evidence.com/axon/citizen/public/2022-624
Those interested in donating to Arabella’s GoFundMe can visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-a-single-mother-and-gun-violence-survivor
H. Jiahong Pan 潘嘉宏 (pronouns: they/them/theirs) is a Minneapolis-based introverted freelance journalist who reports primarily on their lifelong passion: transportation issues. Find them on a bus of all types, the sidewalk, bike lane, hiking trail or perhaps the occasional carshare vehicle, camera and perhaps watercolor set or mushroom brush in tow, in your community or state or regional park regardless of season. If you can’t find them, they’re probably cooking, writing, curating an archive of wall art or brochures, playing board games, sewing or cuddling with their cat. Follow on Twitter: @h_pan3 or Instagram: @hpphmore or on Mastodon: @firstname.lastname@example.org.