Body camera video shows fatal police shooting of Chaska man

Authorities have released the results of their investigation into the shooting death of a 38-year-old Chaska man by Burnsville police on March 17.

The case file runs more than 1,000 pages, and details a routine call to a McDonald's parking lot that ended with a fusillade of shots that killed Map Kong as he fled from his car, apparently carrying a knife.

It also includes graphic video from police body cameras of the officers shooting Kong, among the first such recordings in Minnesota. Burnsville is one of the few police departments that routinely equips officers with the devices.

Body camera video released by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension initially shows Kong frantically bouncing around in the driver's seat of his car, shouting and waving what appears to be a dagger. Police repeatedly ordered him to drop the knife and get out of the car, to no effect. They eventually broke out the passenger windows of his car and used a Taser device twice, yet Kong got out of the car and ran across the parking lot. Police then opened fire repeatedly, according to the audio recorded with the body cameras.

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A Dakota County grand jury on Tuesday found that the three officers who fired shots during the incident, John Mott, Maksim Yakovlev and Taylor Jacobs, were legally justified when they shot and killed Kong. Minneapolis Attorney Steve Meshbesher said he's been retained by the Kong family to look into the matter. He said he's still reviewing evidence and has not taken any action in court.

Burnsville police chief Eric Gieseke released a statement on the matter in connection with the announcement of the grand jury findings.

"I hope - through the release of our officers' body camera videos and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation report - that you will be able to place yourselves in the position of these officers," Gieseke wrote. "I also hope that you will be left with the same conclusion as the Grand Jury -- that our officers acted out of necessity." He also offered his sympathies to Kong's family.

The incident started when callers told Burnsville police that a man had been sitting in his car in the restaurant parking lot along Highway 13, just west of Interstate 35W. Callers reported the driver in the car was behaving erratically, possibly armed with a knife. The initial call came in at 6:16 a.m. and witnesses said Kong may have been at the McDonalds since as early as 2:30 a.m.

At least three officers approached Kong's vehicle in the video, discussing how to approach him as he bounced and rocked in the front seat of the car, shouting frantically and waving a dagger. The car's windows were closed and were fogged with what appeared to be condensation.

Investigators work the scene
Investigators work the scene of an officer-involved shooting that Map Kong dead in Burnsville in mid-March.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

The video shows Kong ignoring the officers' commands, and one officer eventually smashed the passenger side windows on Kong's car with a baton. One of the officers then fired a taser at Kong through one of the broken windows. The video shows Kong turning, opening the driver's side door and running away from the car as police looked on.

Officers opened fire as he cleared the car and Kong pitched forward onto the ground in the parking lot.

A toxicology report found the presence of amphetamine and methamphetamine in Kong's blood when he died, according to a release from the Dakota County attorney's office.

"He started moving away from us, uh, towards, uh McDonald's," said officer Taylor Jacobs, in a transcript of an interview later conducted with a Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator. "I was fearful, again, of my life and my partners' lives at that time, knowing he wasn't going to be complying... The Taser was having no effect on him."

Another officer said he feared Kong might reach cars stopped at a signal on Highway 13 nearby. "My biggest concern was for people that were sitting in traffic," officer Maksim Yakovlev told the BCA. "Because they didn't know what was going on and I felt that if he would've got close enough to traffic, that he could either carjack a car or stab somebody or run into traffic and get hit himself."

The video shows officers approaching Kong and examining him on the ground after the shooting stopped. One officer, unidentified on the video, reported Kong had no pulse. Another told the BCA that one of the Burnsville officers handcuffed Kong, although he also said he believed Kong had died very shortly after the shooting.

A release from the Dakota County attorney's office said an autopsy found Kong suffered 15 gunshot wounds. Investigators recovered 23 cartridge casings at the scene, as well as a knife. The investigation also found a bullet that apparently hit the car of a Farmington woman picking up coffee at the McDonald's that morning.

Neighbors told investigators that Kong had told them the night before he died that he'd come over, bleeding and frantic. They said he told them he believed ghosts were following him, and that they believed he was under the influence of drugs, although they hadn't actually seen him take any. Kong's family also told BCA investigators that they believed Kong "had past issues with drug use," and cited methamphetamine.

The investigative file is extensive: It includes the results of a "Use of Force Training" exam administered by the Burnsville police, detailing officers' training in how to use their firearms, other weapons and other methods to gain compliance or respond to threats. It also includes a variety of certification and training records held by Burnsville police.

Correction (June 22, 2016): An earlier version of this story misidentified the highway on which the McDonald's is located.