Crime, Law and Justice

‘Loyal to his oath’: Slain Minneapolis officer remembered for his heroism

Bouquets of flowers line a police squad car
A memorial for slain Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell is pictured outside the 5th Police Precinct on Friday.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Flags were at half-staff across Minnesota on Friday, a day after a Minneapolis police officer was fatally shot while responding to a call.

Officer Jamal Mitchell, 36, was one of at least three people killed by gunfire in the incident in Minneapolis’ Whittier neighborhood early Thursday evening. The suspected shooter was among the dead. At least four other people, including a police officer and a firefighter, were injured.

Police officers
Officer Jamal Mitchell (left) with Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara.
Courtesy Minneapolis Police Department

Mitchell is the first MPD officer fatally shot in the line of duty in more than 20 years. Speaking to reporters late Thursday night, Assistant Minneapolis Police Chief Katie Blackwell said he was a standout officer.

“He was courageous in every action that he did,” Blackwell said. “He was a wonderful human being. He had only been in our department about a year and a half, and he was exceptional in every way.”

‘He wanted to be the change’

Mitchell joined the department in 2022 and made a name for himself early. In February 2023 he was recognized for helping an elderly couple out of a burning home in Minneapolis.

“He was a hero, a son, a father, a fiancé, and an officer who was so deeply committed to protecting and serving he would run towards danger when the rest of us would run in the other direction,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said.

In a statement Friday, City Council member LaTrisha Vetaw recalled meeting Mitchell at his pinning ceremony. “When I asked him why he joined the department, he said he wanted to ‘be the change,’” Vetaw said.

A man smiles for a photo
Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell. He was killed Thursday in the line of duty.
Courtesy of the Minneapolis Police Department

Mitchell was one of several police and emergency personnel who responded to a report of a double shooting near 22nd Street and Blaisdell Avenue, just after 5 p.m. The chaotic scene spanned multiple blocks, and investigators said Thursday night that they were still working to determine what happened.

According to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension superintendent Drew Evans, Mitchell found an injured person about a block away from the apartment and stopped to help. He was “ambushed” and shot while attempting to give medical aid, investigators said.

Officers returned fire. The suspect was injured and died at the scene; that person’s name has not been released.

Bouquets of flowers line a police squad car
Flowers decorate a memorial for slain Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell outside the 5th Police Precinct on Friday.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

In the apartment that police were initially called to, officers found two people shot. One was pronounced dead at the scene; another was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Outside the building, responders found a man with life-threatening injuries in a vehicle and transported him to the hospital.

Another police officer and a firefighter were injured in the gunfire. They were both treated at the hospital and released overnight.

On Friday evening the Hennepin County Medical Examiner released the names and some additional details about two of the three people killed. Mitchell was shot outside of 2109 Blaisdell Avenue, and 32-year-old Osman Said Jimale was shot in an apartment at 2221 Blaisdell Avenue, about a block away.

Police cars on a street
Law enforcement personnel gather on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis on Thursday night following nearby gunfire that left three people dead, including a police officer.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

The cause of both deaths were homicide. No information was released about the third person who police say was also killed Thursday evening.

Evans said officials believe they know who the suspect is and will release more information soon. As of early Friday morning, officials said there have been no arrests in connection with the gunfire. They also said there was no ongoing threat to the public.

Law enforcement shut down several blocks of Blaisdell Avenue, from Franklin Avenue to 24th Street, in the wake of the shooting on Thursday night. In addition to police and fire personnel, the FBI, Minnesota BCA and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office were among the other agencies who responded. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives St. Paul Field Division said its agents also responded to the scene.

officers salute the remainings of an officer covered by a flag
Law enforcement officers salute the flag-draped casket of Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell as his body is escorted to a waiting medical examiner's vehicle outside HCMC in Minneapolis on Thursday.
Aaron Lavinsky | Star Tribune via AP

‘Loyal to his oath’

Gov. Tim Walz ordered flags to fly at half-staff Friday in Mitchell’s honor. Speaking to reporters on Thursday night, Walz gave his condolences to Mitchell’s family and thanked the first responders.

“It’s a really hard job, and it’s really hard with lots of guns on the street,” Walz said. “Their families deserve to know they’re coming home. So deepest condolences, and an absolute commitment that this cannot be the norm.”

Gov. Walz bows his head during a presser
Gov. Tim Walz speaks at a news conference in Minneapolis on Thursday night.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

An official, verified donation platform to help Mitchell’s family was announced Friday afternoon by the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, Law Enforcement Labor Services and the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association.

Donations can be made online to the LELS Benevolent Fund.

Checks can also be mailed to Law Enforcement Labor Services Benevolent Fund, Attention: Officer Mitchell, 2700 Freeway Boulevard, Suite 700, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430

Thursday’s shooting was the second in the state this year to claim the life of a first responder. Burnsville police officers Matthew Ruge and Paul Elmstrand and firefighter-paramedic Adam Finseth were killed in February while responding to a domestic violence call.

A photo of a police officer is taped to the window of a police squad car
A photo of slain Minneapolis police officer Jamal Mitchell is affixed to a memorial outside the 5th Police Precinct on Friday.
Ben Hovland | MPR News

Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Executive Director Brian Peters said Mitchell’s service will be remembered.

“The law enforcement community is devastated and mourning,” Peters said. “This officer exemplified unmatched dedication, bravery, and service in defense of the public. Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with his family, friends, and fellow officers as they navigate through this incredibly challenging time.”

The Minnesota BCA and the Minneapolis Police Department are continuing the investigation. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner will release the names of the other people who died.

a white paper heart with flowers
A sign that reads "Thank you for your service Officer Mitchell. I'm so sorry," was placed at the shooting scene in Minneapolis on Friday.
Estelle Tilmar-Wilcox | MPR News

In a statement posted Friday morning, Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said he knew Mitchell and recalled honoring him for the rescue of the elderly couple from the fire last year.

“I am angry and deeply hurt by such a senseless and violent attack on Minneapolis’ Finest,” he said of Mitchell’s killing. “As police officers, we know dying in the line of duty is always a possibility but the harsh reality hurts very deeply when it happens.”

Mitchell “died doing what society asks all police officers to do. He did his job, and he was loyal to his oath until his death,” O’Hara added. “There is no more honorable service one can provide.”

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