Initial reaction to the release of Thurman Blevins videos

Three body cam videos from the June 23 shooting were released on Sunday.
Publish date:

The City of Minneapolis on Sunday took the unprecedented step of releasing body cam footage of the police shooting of Thurman Blevins just over a month after it happened.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey had promised the Blevins family that he would seeks to release the footage as soon as possible in the interests of transparency, and 10 days ago had said it would be out by the end of July.

Speaking to media after its release, Frey said: "This is an unprecedented timeline, but in that timeline we needed to act with full transparency and making sure we're honest, even if the truth is difficult."

"Regardless of how our own life experiences and backgrounds have formed conclusions we draw, let us all recognize one truth: A life was lost and that in and of itself is tragic."

He called for an end to demonization on both sides, recognizing that there have been historical problems with excessive force used on black people by law enforcement, who at the same time put their lives at risk on a daily basis "to make Minneapolis a better place."

One official that won't be responding is Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who in the wake of the videos' release says he can't publicly comment as the shooting remains an active criminal investigation.

"While Chief Arradondo is currently prohibited by data practice law from commenting on the specifics of this case he will continue to remain engaged, active and listen throughout the community," Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said.

The footage shows two officers chasing Blevins in north Minneapolis on June 23.  They had earlier been called to reports of a man matching Blevins' description firing a gun into the air and into the ground.

Blevins is running away with his back to the officers when he's shot. Slowed down footage shows what looks like a handgun in his right hand just before they open fire. A silver and black gun was recovered from near the body.

Although it hasn't commented on the Sunday release, the Minneapolis Police Federation had previously stated that Blevins was armed and refused commands to drop his weapon before they fired.

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The audio does confirm that one of the officers, Justin Schmidt, shouts at Blevins to put his hands up several times.

"He didn't deserve to die," his cousin, Sydnee Brown, told the Star Tribune. "He wasn't a threat when [the officers] approached him. They didn't view him as a human being."

She also told MPR: "We need the truth to be revealed that Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt were never afraid of Thurman Blevins, because if they were they would have de-escalated the situation the minute they approached him."

Nekima Levy-Pounds, the former president of the Minneapolis NAACP chapter, criticized the city on Facebook for the timing of the release, saying: "Why Jacob Frey chose to release this footage on a Sunday night, escapes me," though she hasn't yet commented on the content of the video.

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