Columbia Heights shooting by officers goes to grand jury in May

A Columbia Heights officer-involved shooting case is headed to a grand jury for consideration of criminal charges against the police officers.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension concluded its investigation into the November fatal shooting of 45-year-old Michael Kirvelay by Fridley and Columbia Heights police.

The Anoka County Attorney's office announced Monday the case will go to a grand jury in May.

Kirvelay's family members met with prosecutors to continue to push for criminal charges against the officers. His brother, Bill Kirvelay said the secretive grand jury process won't help the family understand what happened.

"It was a gruesome act of violence," Kirvelay said, adding he wants to see video footage which he believes exists.

Anoka County Criminal Division Chief Attorney Paul Young said state laws prohibit release of any evidence to protect the integrity of the investigation.

"We would expect and anticipate that that could play a very important role at the grand jury," Young said.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety identified the officers as Sgt. Erik Johnston, a 13-year veteran of the Columbia Heights Police Department and Shawn Murphy, who had been with the Fridley department for one year at the time of the shooting.

The officers were responding to a report of a person with a gun at a Columbia Heights business, according to the BCA.

Later the family said they first thought it was a BB gun, but now they're not sure he even had that.

Kirvelay said his brother was paranoid and acting in an erratic way. He said officers should have the proper training to respond to a person with a mental health crisis.

"Or they need to learn how to back off," he said. When it comes to officer-involved shooting investigation, Kirvelay said he plans to continue to pressure investigators to be more transparent.

On Saturday, a group of protesters demanded release of police videos and prosecution of the officers.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.