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Mother of man killed by Hastings police wants answers

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Keagan Johnson-Lloyd
Keagan Johnson-Lloyd
Courtesy Photo from Tanya Johnson

Tanya Johnson still doesn't know what happened immediately before her son, Keagan Johnson-Lloyd, 23, was shot and killed Monday by a Hastings police officer.

Johnson said her son got into a fight with one of his roommates at a sober living facility in Hastings. She said the man suffered some scratches and was not going to press charges. Johnson-Lloyd walked away from the home, which Johnson said was a place where, for the most part, residents could come and go as they pleased.

"I don't know how at that point my son got shot," she said.

The picture remains incomplete. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is leading the inquiry, says Johnson-Lloyd was suspected of stabbing another man at the group home a few hours before he was shot. The agency, however, hasn't said if Johnson-Lloyd was armed or tried to attack police.

Officers at the scene were equipped with body cameras, said a BCA spokesperson, but it's not clear if those cameras recorded the shooting.

Johnson said her son loved to make his friends and family laugh. He was an avid reader who was working on his memoir. She said her son's struggles with mental illness surfaced at age 4 when he began showing signs of anxiety. At 12 years old, "he began self-medicating."

None of the therapies and medications seemed to help, something Johnson said only frustrated him.

Court records also show a pattern of legal interventions.

In 2014, Johnson-Lloyd pleaded guilty to spitting on a police officer. During that proceeding, Johnson-Lloyd's defense lawyer expressed concerns about his client's competency to enter the plea.

A court document described an evaluation of Johnson-Lloyd, saying he "demonstrated many symptoms of major mental illness and chemical dependency. He is clearly in need of medical intervention to stabilize his condition to an acceptable level."

Johnson-Lloyd underwent civil commitment proceedings in Olmsted County for chemical dependency in 2014 and was petitioned to be committed as mentally ill in 2015.

Johnson-Lloyd is the seventh person to be killed by Minnesota law enforcement officers this year. They include several who were reportedly experiencing mental health problems.

Police departments around the state have put officers through hours of crisis intervention training.

Agencies started training officers to de-escalate mental health crisis situations long before the Legislature passed a law last year requiring that training, said Nate Gove, executive director of the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Board.

"When outcomes do result in injuries or death to people, that is a very tragic outcome for everybody involved," said Gove, a former police officer. "I knew of no officers throughout my entire nearly 29-year career that wanted to get involved with any type of deadly force confrontation."

Johnson wants more police officers to learn how to deal with people like her son who suffer mental health crises.

"There's non-lethal ways of dealing with someone who's not in their right mind. We're not supposed to be killing these people, we're supposed to be helping them," she said.

"I'm just crushed that my son had to die because he wasn't in his right mind."