A Black man who was killed by Minneapolis police over the weekend was shot multiple times and died as a result of those gunshot wounds, according to a report released Monday by a medical examiner.
Thurman Blevins Jr., 31, of Minneapolis, was shot and killed Saturday after a foot chase with police through a north Minneapolis alley. Authorities said he was armed, and the head of the police union said Blevins had pulled out his gun before two officers fired their weapons.
Some people in the neighborhood disputed that Blevins had a gun at the time. By Monday, pictures, candles, a Vikings jersey and some of Blevins’ favorite things had been left in the alley where he died. Some chairs were set up nearby for those who wanted to visit the memorial. A day earlier, demonstrators congregated outside the local police station, and activists also halted a gay pride parade in Minneapolis to protest police shootings.
Investigators say police were responding at least one 911 call Saturday evening about a man who was firing a handgun outside. Officers arrived to find Blevins sitting with a woman on a curb. As officers got out of their squad car, Blevins ran, carrying a black and silver gun. Officers chased him for several blocks.
Investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said there is body camera footage of the shooting, but that has not been released.
Bob Kroll, head of the Minneapolis police union, said Monday that officers made repeated demands for Belvins to drop the gun and he did not comply.
“He pulled the gun out, and officers were threatened and forced to fire,” Kroll said. He added that the body camera video “will dispel all the false narratives that are out there and it will corroborate that the officers had no other alternative.”
A man who lives in the area said he heard officers yell, “Drop the gun!” multiple times before a series of gunshots. Robert Lang said he had just gotten done mowing his lawn when he heard commotion and voices. He started to head toward his alley, but heard the officers yell and decided to stay behind his garage.
He then heard two or three gunshots, followed by a small lull, then more gunshots–perhaps 10 in total. After the shooting stopped, he ventured out from behind his garage and saw Blevins lying in the alley, blood pooling underneath him.
“Within a couple of feet on his right hand side, there was a black automatic handgun,” Lang said. One of the officers then approached Blevins, with his gun drawn, and kicked the gun away. Lang said the officer got on his radio and requested an ambulance.
Authorities said late Sunday that a black and silver handgun was recovered from the scene. Authorities were interviewing witnesses and planned to release the names of the officers involved in the shooting after they provide their statements.
Several people disputed the police account. Katya Kelly, the sister of Blevins’ girlfriend, said Blevins had a bottle in his hand–not a gun–as he and his girlfriend walked to her house. The Minneapolis NAACP wrote in a Facebook post that witnesses said he had been drinking out of a cup.
Minneapolis has been rocked by two high-profile fatal police shootings in recent years, including the November 2015 shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark and last July’s shooting of 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk Damond . Officers in the Clark case were not charged, and trial is pending for the officer who shot Damond.