Bemidji police chief: Stop spreading rumors about deadly police shooting

A 34-year-old man was killed in the officer-involved shooting on Nov. 28.
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Chief Mike Mastin

The chief of police in Bemidji is urging people to remain patient as the wait for more information about what led to a deadly officer-involved shooting in the northern Minnesota city continues. 

Vernon May, 34, of Red Lake, was shot and killed during a routine traffic staff in Bemidji on Nov. 28. 

According to the original press release about the incident, a Bemidji police officer and deputy from the Beltrami County Sheriff's Office discharged their weapons following a struggle to control a gun that they say May was in possession of. 

May was a passenger in the back seat of the vehicle and the struggle followed a request for him to get out of the vehicle after learning that he was wanted on a felony warrant. 

Chief Mike Mastin's caution letter was released after a series of protests outside police headquarters, with protesters demanding answers and the release of video from the shooting. 

“Our community has experienced a tragedy. One life is lost and others are irreversibly changed forever. Their families and friends have also suffered a great deal of grief, anger and worry. Understandably, everyone wants answers as to what happened on the night of November 28th," Mastin wrote in a letter to the community

“I recognize that people want the details of this case to be made public immediately, I do too. However, it is important we all understand, a case of this significance takes time and due diligence to ensure nothing is missed."

Mastin noted that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is handling the investigation, and that interviews, videos, physical evidence, autopsy and toxicology reports all need extensive review, all of which "take time for proper analysis." 

Mastin urged people to stop spreading "untruthful rumors" about the case until the facts are released. 

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"It is important that people not promote a false narrative that spreads hate throughout our community," Mastin said. "Doing so does not allow our community to heal and move forward. In fact, it only serves to create further division and destroy the bridges of trust we have already built.

Mastin guaranteed that body camera video will be made public as soon as possible. 

"By releasing the video too soon, there is the risk of tainting a jury that may be required for a trial or grand jury. And, we are considering the family of the deceased, once the video is made public it will be shared across all media platforms," he said. 

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