On Sunday, July 29, Minneapolis police released bodycam footage of the fatal officer-involved shooting of 31-year-old Thurman Blevins.
The incident occurred on June 23 and sparked widespread protests over, yet, another black man gunned down by police. As officials maintained that Blevins fled with a gun and refused to follow commands, the public demanded evidence by way of the bodycam footage.
More than a month later, officials released an enhanced version of the June 23rd incident, which highlighted what appears to be a gun in Blevins’ hand and showed officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly firing several shots at Blevins, as he ran away.
Now, in the wake of the release of the footage, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says he won’t charge the officers involved in the shooting.
In his statement, Freeman said Blevins turned toward the officers with the gun in his hand, which prompted the officers to fire their weapons and as a result, justified the shooting.
“Witness testimony, body camera video and forensic testing all proved that Blevins had a nine millimeter semi-automatic handgun in his hand and refused multiple commands to drop the gun during the foot chase that ended in his death on June 23,” Freeman said.
“When Mr. Blevins fled from the officers with a loaded handgun, refused to follow their commands for him to stop and show his hands and then took the gun out of his pocket and turned toward the officers, Mr. Blevins represented a danger to the lives of Officer Schmidt and Officer Kelly. The decision to use deadly force against Mr. Blevins under those circumstances was authorized,” he continued, adding that the officers fired 14 shots and hit Blevins 4 times.
On the other hand, Blevins’ relatives said they were disgusted with the prosecutors decision. “Mike Freeman,” a family member said. “You better think long and hard about prosecuting the officers. We’re not angry. We’re more so disgusted.”
“He pleaded and begged for his life,” another relative said, as she maintained that Blevins didn’t pose a real threat. “Him and that police officer had a full conversation while running for two blocks.”