Following the tragic shooting of Thurman Blevins, 31, by Officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly of the Minneapolis Police Department, his family, friends and local activists have many protests ahead until justice prevails.
On June 23, the officers got a call reporting that an intoxicated black man, Blevins, was firing his gun into the air in a residential area. When they found Blevins, he was sitting on a sidewalk near a woman with a child in a stroller and a dog. They saw that he was holding a bottle of gin and then quickly saw that he had a gun in his possession.
Rather than questioning Blevins who was calmly sitting down, the officers launched out of their car and took off toward him with guns ready. Blevins instinctively ran away while the officers yelled for him to “Put your (expletive) hands up now.” They chased Blevins down a side street and when he would not stop, one of the officers yelled, “I will (expletive) shoot you.”
Blevins begged the officers not to shoot him, but continued to run away. Blevins pulled out his gun and shot toward Officer Kelly, and the bullet hit the ground, so the officers open fired. The final report proved that Officer Schmidt fired at Blevins 8 times and Officer Kelly fired 6 times. 4 of the bullets killed Blevins.
After a thorough analysis of the police officer’s body camera footage, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman made the decision to free the officers of any criminal charges. Officers Kelly and Schmidt are both on paid leave until the case is closed and they are cleared to return to their positions.
Minneapolis Police Federation President Bob Kroll reported, “The Federation maintained from the start that the officers’ actions during this incident were heroic. The body camera footage exemplifies this. The officers did exactly what the public expects them to do. They responded to a 911 call of someone shooting a gun. They located the suspect, gave numerous orders for him to comply, pursued the suspect as he fled. They were forced to fire at the suspect only after he pointed a gun and fired at the officers. The officers deserve Minneapolis Police Department’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, and they deserve the respect of the population they are sworn to protect.”
While Freeman was reporting the decision to the press, Blevins friends and family began a protest in the conference room in opposition to the result. The family is insisting that Officer Kelly and Officer Schmidt are both fired and faced with criminal charges. CBS News reported, “His sister, Darlynn Blevins, said her brother ‘ran for his life’ because he was scared and the officer ‘emptied his clip into my brother’s back.’”
On Tuesday, peaceful protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis to call attention to the police brutality in the city. The rally grew and hundreds blocked intersections and light rail lines to slow traffic toward Target Field for the Twins game against the Cleveland Indians. The protesters called out Blevins’ final words: “Leave me alone,” and “Please don’t shoot me.” One of the marchers told CBS Minnesota, “I’m a black person myself and I feel bad for any black person who was shot by police and most of us have no justice.”
Police brutality is no stranger to Minneapolis. Last year, when Justine Damond called the police after facing assault in an alley, she was shot by the responding police officer. The officer in this case was charged with murder. A similar case to Blevins’ was in November of 2015 when Jamar Clark was fatally shot by two officers who also faced no criminal charges.
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