Man killed during exchange of gunfire with St. Paul cop, state investigators say

A photo sits next to candles
A photo of Howard Johnson rests along the curb where he was killed by St. Paul Police in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood of St. Paul on Wednesday.
Tim Evans for MPR News

A man killed by St. Paul police on Monday exchanged gunfire with the officer who shot him, state investigators announced Wednesday.

St. Paul Police Sgt. Cody Blanshan and another officer, who was not named, were in their squad car helping to establish a perimeter near Earl St. and Hudson Rd. as part of a response to a domestic assault report, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement.

Howard Peter Johnson, 24, the subject of the call, allegedly tried to carjack a woman's vehicle at gunpoint outside a business on Hudson Rd.

That's when, according to the BCA statement, surveillance video shows the squad car striking Johnson and knocking him to the ground. The agency did not release the video it cited.

The agency’s statement said the footage "appears to show an exchange of gunfire" between Johnson and Blanshan.

Investigators allegedly recovered a .45 caliber Glock and three of its cartridge casings, as well as Blanshan's 9mm and 10 of its casings.

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The BCA said parts of the incident were also recorded on squad and body cameras and the agency will release video "once the case is closed and fully adjudicated."

In an email to MPR News, St. Paul Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Mike Ernster said Mayor Melvin Carter and Chief Axel Henry “are committed to releasing the video as soon as possible,” and “will work with the BCA to determine an appropriate time for that to occur.”

Attorneys for the officers involved have said they’ll provide written statements on the officers’ behalf, according to the agency.

Blanshan, who’s been a law enforcement officer for a decade, is on administrative leave while the investigation is underway.