Autopsy: Man shot multiple times by Minneapolis police

Marques Armstrong, the husband to Nekima Levy-Pounds speaks.
Marques Armstrong addresses the crowd in front of the Fourth Precinct in Minneapolis where protesters gathered to speak out about the fatal police shooting of Thurman Blevins on Sunday.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News

Updated: 5:42 p.m. | Posted: 9:55 a.m.

Authorities say a black man who was killed by Minneapolis police officers over the weekend had been shot multiple times and died as a result of those gunshot wounds.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled Monday that the death of 31-year-old Thurman Blevins of Minneapolis was a homicide.

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Blevins was shot just after 5:30 p.m. Saturday in an alley in north Minneapolis, after police responded to 911 calls about a man with a gun in the area.

City and police leaders have vowed a full and transparent investigation, even as community members and activists questioned their account of the death.

The state's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is investigating the shooting, said Blevins was armed and running from police officers who fatally shot him a short time later. The BCA said in a written statement that its agents found a black and silver handgun at the scene of the shooting.

Some people who say they saw the incident unfold said Blevins didn't have a gun.

Authorities say the officers' body-worn cameras recorded the shooting. That video has not been released, nor have the names of the two officers involved. They remain on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

Police investigate the scene of an officer-involved shooting.
Police investigate the scene of a police shooting Saturday in Minneapolis.
Aaron Lavinsky | Star Tribune via AP

James Lark said at the vigil held Sunday near the scene of the shooting that he saw the initial confrontation. He said police officers approached Blevins near 48th and Camden avenues north and told him to put his hands up, at which point Blevins turned and ran.

Lark said he didn't see a gun. He said Blevins was drinking out of a cup, and sitting on the curb with a woman with a baby in a stroller.

But one witness told KARE 11 that he repeatedly heard officers yell to drop the gun just before the shooting.

"I heard the police say 'drop the gun.' I heard them say that three or four times," Robert Lang said. "So I just stayed by the corner of my garage."

Lang, whose garage is on the alley behind his home in the 4700 block of Bryant Avenue North where Blevins was shot, said he heard two or three gunshots, a delay and then another eight or nine shots.

Lang said when he went around his garage, toward the alley he saw a man lying in a pool of blood.

"The police hadn't even come up to the body yet," he said. "And about a foot and a half to the right of this individual there was a black handgun. And then a police officer approached, kicked the gun away, and then when he saw me he told me to get back in the yard, which is what I did."

Protesters call for answers, outside investigation

Callers reported a man firing a gun toward the ground and in the air in the area around 46th and Lyndale avenues north, just before the confrontation. At least one of the callers gave police a detailed description of the man that included his clothing.

Minneapolis NAACP President Leslie Badue said community members want answers.

"Honestly, I don't know what's going through the community's minds, but I do know that we continue to be traumatized one time after another," Badue said shortly after the shooting Saturday night. "It's extremely unfortunate."

Badue's sentiments were echoed throughout Sunday by family members, community leaders and activists alike, many of whom said they didn't trust the BCA to conduct the investigation.

Protesters called for an out-of-state, independent, third-party agency to investigate the shooting.

The crowd listens to the last speakers at the candlelight vigil.
The crowd listens to the last speakers as the candlelight vigil for Thurman Blevins winds down Sunday.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News

"We do not trust the BCA as far as we can see them," said lawyer and activist Nekima Levy-Pounds during a midday protest Sunday in front of the Minneapolis Police Department's Fourth Precinct.

Blevins' father Thurman Moore and uncle Manuel Moore appeared there briefly to thank protesters.

"We just want to know the truth," Thurman Moore said. "No one should get shot down like a dog. I know he may have made some bad decisions, but we just want everything to come to light, and we don't want no secrets. And we just want to honor him."

Friends of Blevins said he liked working on bikes and cars and was an expert at painting them. He looked out for kids in the neighborhood and gave them snack money.

Blevins was on probation for a 2015 incident in which he spat in a police officer's face and kicked the officer in the legs and groin. He wasn't allowed to have a gun. Blevins also had multiple convictions for drug possession, drunken driving and illegally possessing a firearm.

Police conduct has been a focus of intense debate across the nation and in Minneapolis, particularly following the fatal shootings of Jamar Clark in 2015 and Justine Ruszczyk last July. Protesters repeatedly mentioned those shootings as evidence of their distrust in the police.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.