MINNEAPOLIS -- No charges will be filed in the fatal police shooting of a man during a standoff in a south Minneapolis apartment over the summer, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.
Two Minneapolis police snipers shot 20-year-old Andrew "Tekle" Sundberg following a multi-hour standoff in July. According to investigators, Sundberg fired multiple rounds inside the Seward neighborhood apartment building prior to the standoff, and a neighbor also called 911 saying a bullet went through her wall.
In released body cam video, four minutes after an officer arrives on scene, you hear three gunshots fired through an apartment door. For several hours, police attempted to talk Sundberg into coming out peacefully. At times, he can be seen leaning outside of his apartment, holding a cellphone.
The end of the police video shows SWAT team officers Aaron Pearson and Zachary Seraphine positioned on a rooftop across the street. Both officers are heard saying "gun" before one of them fires two rounds.
Search warrants say investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension recovered a pistol with an extended magazine and several bullet casing from Sundberg's apartment.
The BCA was unable to find video that clearly shows the shooting of Sundberg.
On the decision not to file criminal charges, Hennepin County Mike Freeman says the use of deadly force was legally authorized in the shooting because "all of the elements of the use-of-deadly-force statute have been met in this case."
Freeman says for deadly force to be legally used, there must be at minimum a threat of death or great bodily harm that:
Can be articulated with specificity
Is reasonably likely to occur absent action by the law enforcement
Must be addressed through the use of deadly force without unreasonable delay
Sundberg's family said he struggled with his mental health. Their attorneys also said the family rejects the narrative that the police department's efforts were done in collaboration with relatives, adding that what exactly led up to the fatal shooting remains unclear.
Sundberg's mother, Cindy Sundberg, criticized the decision and the timing of this announcement. She told the Star Tribune, "It's like they pulled the scab off our wound," and, "this will be our new Christmas memory."
"Mr. Sundberg's death was a tragedy," Freeman said. "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Mr. Sundberg. People who are suffering from mental health crises are vulnerable, and encounters between those in crisis and law enforcement must be handled with special care. In this case, tragic as it is, the officers' use of deadly force was legally authorized under Minnesota law."
Rachel Moran, associate professor at the St. Thomas School of Law, says the release of the 39-page report that outlines the evidence and applicable law is a crucial move for transparency -- thus allowing the public to understand how the attorney's office came to its decision.
"I think it's really important. The more release of information the better. It's very painful at times, and so I do think there's a need to be sensitive about when and how to release information. But a lot of people distrust the police. And frankly, the police in Minneapolis have given a lot of people reason to distrust them," Moran said. "And so in a situation where the police officers do use deadly force, I think it's important for people to be able to evaluate what they can to actually see the evidence rather than to just rely on … what claims other people make about the evidence."
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email email@example.com.
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