Activists, family demand charges for 2 Minneapolis officers

Jeanette Blevins, the aunt of Thurman Blevins.
Jeanette Blevins, the aunt of Thurman Blevins, holds up a copy of Insight News with her high-school-aged nephew on the front page after a press conference outside of Minneapolis City Hall in Minneapolis on Monday, July 9, 2018.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Updated 1:15 p.m. | Posted 9:28 a.m.

Community activists and family members of a man killed by Minneapolis police said Monday he wasn't a threat when he was shot and called on the officers involved to face criminal charges.

Thurman Blevins, 31, was shot in the late afternoon on June 23 in an alley in north Minneapolis, after police responded to 911 calls about a man with a gun in the area shooting into the ground and in the air.

Thurman Blevins' cousin Sydney Brown speaks at a press conference.
Thurman Blevins' cousin Sydney Brown says his killing was an "injustice" and says officers should have known how to take her cousin into custody during a press conference outside of Minneapolis City Hall.
Jon Collins | MPR News

The Minnesota 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.

On Monday, though, family members and activists said they have no interest in talking to the BCA and said in a statement that "the only thing that will satisfy us is justice."

"I feel like my brother was murdered. I feel like that should have been the headline on the news," Blevins' sister Darlynn Blevins told reporters. "I feel like the police violate our lives out here."

She described him a funny brother who tried to own up to his responsibilities. "He did not betray a life of violence at all."

Blevins' cousin Sydney Brown said his killing was an "injustice" and that the officers should have known how to take her cousin into custody.

Darlynn Blevins, the older sister of Thurman Blevins.
Darlynn Blevins, the older sister of Thurman Blevins, speaks at a press conference outside of Minneapolis City Hall in Minneapolis.
Evan Frost | MPR News

"He would have had no problem taking on the consequences of his actions that led up to these two officers arriving, and it didn't need to lead up to the murder of my cousin," Brown said.

A statement from the family and activists said Blevins was shot in the back while running from the officers. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner, however, has said only that Blevins died of multiple gunshot wounds.

Authorities say the officers' body-worn cameras recorded the shooting. That video has not been released. The officers involved, Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt, remain on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.

Brown said Mayor Jacob Frey's office has indicated it hopes to let the family review the body cam video next week, before a public release.

"We want to see the actual full process of when these two officers approached Thurman Blevins, not just the shooting in the alley," Brown said. "If the video does not show the whole clip of when these two officers got out of their vehicle, then there's no reason you should be showing this video footage at all."

The family is planning a public funeral for Blevins on Saturday at 11 a.m. at Faith Deliverance Holiness Church in Minneapolis. They're also helping to organize a community discussion at Jenny Lind Elementary School in Minneapolis along with longtime activist Mel Reeves.

Another community discussion this week will include BCA Superintendent Drew Evans, who will explain how the agency investigates police-involved shootings.

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