Thurman Blevins Jr. was shot by Minneapolis police on June 23 at around 6:30 p.m. in a north Minneapolis alley as he was running away. Officers were responding to a 911 caller who reported Blevins was drinking, possibly intoxicated, and and firing a gun in the air and at the ground in a residential neighborhood with young children and families nearby.
According to police records, and as the raw and edited video show, Blevins runs from police when they roll up on him. They scream at him to stop, put his hands up and yell they know he has a gun. Blevins yells back that he doesn’t and keeps running. He tells police not to shoot him but is ultimately shot and killed by a police officer, Justin Schmidt.
The video above was created from the raw footage, which you can watch below, by the National Center for Audio & Video Forensics. Technicians “stable and analyze” the video with “stabilizing software (which) identifies pixels from each frame and aligns them to help limit the ‘shake’ that can occur without altering the content,” the Minneapolis Police Department explained. That said, the video does slow down to a near standstill at times to call the viewers attention to what is circled in red, as identified as the gun Blevins has and police say, depicts him pulling it out while running. Indeed, after police gun him down, the gun falls to the ground.
The officer-involved shooting of Blevins was “case closed with no discipline” for the two officers involved.
Blevins family, friends, neighbors, activists and others in the community have been asking for weeks for the cops to be fired and charged in his death.
The cause of death as recorded by the medical examiner was homicide by multiple gunshot wounds. His family said he posed no threat and was running away.
Police were responding to a 911 call from a resident who told emergency dispatchers that Blevins was drinking and firing off rounds in the street.
Caller: …uh yea, ….there’s a guy walking around shooting off his gun and he looks intoxicated and um, that’s just not safe around here.
Operator: When the person—
Caller: He uh, light skinned—
Caller: He just blew off a shot like 5 minutes ago and before that he got off another shot 20 minutes ago.
Operator: Is he shooting at people or into the air?
Caller: No. Just in the air and at the ground.
Caller: He’s shooting in the air and he’s shooting at the ground.
Operator: Okay, one moment.
Operator: Is anybody shot or is it just that he is being reckless with the gun?
Caller: There’s like three people, three kids (inaudible) neighborhood walking around with a drink, like
he drinking and shooting a gun (inaudible-muffled).
The cops are in their cruiser and take the call. They note, as can be heard on the video the bodycam video that the description is very detailed and specific and that they figured they’d be able to identify him easily from the description.
Operator: Okay, Describe the gun.
Caller: Uhhhh. It’s like a Nine. A silver 9 millimeter. if I’m not mistaken. It’s chrome at the top but um
he’s uh he’s like 6 feet, light skin. He gotta bald— …6 feet, ah, he got like a bald head tapered. He got a—
Operator: How old does he look to be?—
Caller: He have a wife beater. Uh, like almost 36. 35. He got a wife beater on. He walking around with a
back pack. A black back pack.
Operator: What color is the tank top?
Caller: Uh. I believe it is white or grey. Cause when he let of the shot, I left! I ran!
Operator: Right. And you said he was like 35, 36?
Caller: Yeah, like 35, 36. He had no facial hair. He had a bald head taper with designs in it.
Operator: Yep. Yep. You told me. Is he thin, medium or heavy?
Caller: Um. Like 180.
The officers roll up on Blevins. They say, “he has a gun!”
This is the raw video from Officer Ryan Kelly beginning from the point where the officers are being Thurman’s description.
This is the raw video from Officer Justin Schmidt from the point when the police fine Thurman.
Police declined to comment beyond providing video, police reports, limited personnel files on both officers and other perfunctory data, most of it raw, including documents from the fire department about having to deploy a ladder to collect evidence and clean up the alley after the shooting. All the released data, documents and videos can be found here.
Bodycam footage shows Blevins running away. A criminal justice professor told local media what matters is if police actions were reasonable, and he said, an officer can “only shoot a fleeing person if that person poses a significant threat to the officers or the surrounding community.” That Blevins had a gun is likely not going to be disputed but what may be is did he pose a significant threat as he was running away.
MPD spokesman John Elder told local media it’s an ongoing criminal investigation and are are “unable to speak further.”
The shooting of Blevins ignited outrage in the community and led to protests and calls for the firing of Ryan and Schmidt and for the two to be criminally charged.
Not only were they not charged, they received no discipline based on police documents.
Local media reported that there wee “conflicting accounts about whether Blevins actually had a gun.” The video provided by the police shows there was a gun. But Blevins was runnig away from police not toward police.
It was reported that a “man who was hiding around the corner of his garage” in the alley heard cops tell him to drop the gun and the witness said he saw the gun.
In the video this is the exchange:
Schmidt: “Put your fuc*ing hands up now. Stop. Put your (expletive) hands up. Put your hands up. I will (expletive) shoot you.”
Blevins: “What. What.”
Blevins: “Come on, man. Come on, man.”
Schmidt: “Put your hands up.”
Blevins: “I didn’t do nothing, bro.”
Schmidt: “You’ve got a gun …(expletive)
Schmidt: “Yes you do.”
Schmidt: “Put it down. Put it down. I will fuc*ing shoot you. Put your hands up.”
Blevins: “Please don’t shoot me.”
Schmidt: “Put your hands up.”
Blevins: “Leave me alone.”
Schmidt: “Put your …”
Schmidt shoots Blevins. Blevins falls on his back on the ground but is still moving when Schmidt gets closer. What looks ot be a gun is on the ground and police say that it is a gun on the ground inches form Blevin’s hand.