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Minneapolis releases transcript of 911 call made before fatal police shooting

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Police investigate the scene of an officer-involved shooting.
Police investigate the scene of an officer-involved shooting June 23, 2018, in Minneapolis.
Aaron Lavinsky | Star Tribune via AP

The city of Minneapolis has released a transcript of a 911 call that preceded the shooting death of 31-year-old Thurman Junior Blevins by Minneapolis police officers late last month.

The transcript doesn't differ significantly from what police and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension have already said about what led up to the shooting on the late afternoon of June 23, but the released transcript offers slightly more detail about what police were told.

The caller — who is not named — told the 911 operator that "there's a guy walking around shooting off his gun and he looks intoxicated." The caller said the man was shooting his gun "in the air and at the ground," and fired twice in a 15 minute period. The caller added that after the second shot, "everybody started running away."  

The caller described the man as being in his mid-30s, light-skinned and about 180 pounds. He was described as wearing a tank top, carrying a black backpack and drinking from a bottle of liquor. The caller said the man was in the area of 46th and Bryant Avenues, and that two other people were with him. The caller said the gun was silver.

In total, the 911 call lasted less than six minutes. Before the operator hung up, Officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly were on their way.

In the BCA's account released the day after the shooting, the agency said officers exited their squad near the intersection of 48th and Camden avenues and that Blevins fled. The agency said officers chased Blevins for several blocks, at some point firing their weapons.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said Blevins died of multiple gunshot wounds at 5:35 p.m., nine minutes after the 911 operator answered her phone. The BCA said investigators recovered a black and silver handgun.

Witnesses at the scene have disagreed about whether they saw Blevins with a gun.

Witness James Lark said he saw two officers confront a man holding a cup who was with a woman and a baby in a stroller. Lark said the officers drew their guns right away. He didn't see Blevins make any threatening movements and he didn't see a gun.

Another witness, Robert Lang, said he heard officers yell repeatedly to "drop the gun" and then heard shots in the alley behind his garage. Lark said he saw a handgun near Blevins body after the shooting.  

Blevins death led to protests and vigils last week, as well as an emotional hearing at the Minneapolis City Council as his family and supporters called for transparency and justice. His family remembered him as a dedicated father of three young girls.

Officers Kelly and Schmidt are on paid administrative leave as the BCA investigation proceeds.

Both officers had their body cameras activated at the time of the shooting. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has vowed to release the footage after the BCA finishes key interviews and the city consults with Blevins' family.