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Fallen Minneapolis officer Jamal Mitchell remembered as "hero," awarded Purple Heart

Thousands gather to pay tribute to fallen officer Jamal Mitchell
Thousands gather to pay tribute to fallen officer Jamal Mitchell 06:55

MINNEAPOLIS — Jamal Mitchell, the Minneapolis police officer killed in the line of duty late last month in a mass shooting, was honored by thousands on Tuesday at a public memorial service.

Mitchell, 36, was fatally shot on May 30 in the city's Whittier neighborhood while providing medical aid to his killer, 35-year-old Mustafa Mohamed, who had been shot by someone earlier. Mohamed was then killed by another officer.

Officer Jamal Mitchell Minneapolis Police Department

Two others found suffering from gunshot wounds in a nearby apartment building also died. Another officer, a firefighter and a civilian were also hurt.

Mitchell remembered as "hero" at memorial service

Mitchell's service started at 11 a.m. at Maple Grove Senior High School with a slideshow of images of Mitchell with friends and family and on the job.


Pastor Mike Emmert led the opening prayer. 

"Today, it's good to cry. And today, it's good to laugh," Emmert said. "To have some joy, because of the joy that Jamal brought to all of us."

Fallen MPD officer's aunt: Jamal Mitchell’s heart said "I care" 08:09

Mitchell's aunt Denise Raper followed with a scripture reading and remembrance.

"No matter what you've been through, Jamal's heart demonstrated, 'I care,'" Raper said. "It demonstrated the deep concern that no matter who you are or what difficulty you might face, I'm here to help you up."

Mayor Jacob Frey: Fallen officer "chose Minneapolis," and "we were so lucky to have him" 04:49

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey remembered Mitchell as "the epitome of a public servant and a courageous police officer."

"Officer Jamal Mitchell exemplified the very best of our city. He was a hero," Frey said. "He loved, and looking around this room today, what is exceedingly clear is that we all loved him right back."

Frey closed his speech by addressing Mitchell directly.

"You lived a hero, you died a hero and you will be rememebred as a hero in our city forever," he said.

MPD chief: Jamal Mitchell was "exceptional," but "not the exception" among police officers 13:37

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara said Mitchell "was heroic as a man unto the very end" and said he has been posthumously awarded the department's Medal of Honor and Purple Heart.

"Jamal did not hesitate to answer that final call for service, and he lived up to the highest standards of the Minneapolis Police Department and the standards of policing itself," O'Hara said.

Fallen officer Jamal Mitchell was "the hero that the City of Minneapolis needed," friend declares 13:29

Officer Luke Weatherspoon, who graduated from the police academy with Mitchell and grew to be close friends with him, memorialized him as an outstanding father and community member.

"Jamal was the kind of guy who saw someone in distress and everything else went out the window," Weatherspoon said.

While wearing the badge, Weatherspoon said, Mitchell was completely selfless.

"Mitch is the hero that the city of Minneapolis needed, and at a time when we only have questions, I can tell you one answer that I have: God needed a hero and he called on Mitch," Weatherspoon said.

Fallen MPD officer was "exactly the type of officer that we need more of in the community" 08:50

Chris Dunker, a neighbor and friend of Mitchell, said he was the rare person about whom no one could say a negative word.

"He was always happy, with that Colgate smile," Dunker said. "He had tons of energy. He was the first to say hello to someone new. Incredible father. And just generally the kind of person you want to be around."

Mitchell asked Dunker to be a reference when he applied to MPD. Dunker said he hesitated out of a selfish desire to keep Mitchell out of harm's way, but ultimately gave him a glowing referral.

"He wanted to be an officer that would make an impact, and boy did he," Dunker said.

Emmert closed the service with a sermon.

After the program, Mitchell was honored with a flyover and outdoor ceremonies. 

Mitchell's procession started around 2:10 p.m., beginning on Fernbrook Lane, then progressed to 93rd Avenue; Maple Grove Parkway; eastbound Interstate 94; eastbound Interstate 494; eastbound Highway 62; finished at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. 


Community members paid their respects from streets and overpasses as the procession made its way through the west metro. Two Northfield first responders brought their son to witness the procession on Tuesday afternoon, and were part of a crowd that gathered on a Highway 62 overpass.

"Us working in that field, we wanted to show our son how important this kind of stuff is to our community," said J.D., who works as a firefighter. "We all answer these calls, we all know what it's like."


From MSP, Mitchell's body will be taken to New Haven, Connecticut, where he was from. The New Haven Police Department is sending members of their law enforcement community and honor guard to receive Mitchell's body.


Community unites to make Mitchell's memorial service special

Mitchell, who had been with Minneapolis police for a year and a half, was a father who was set to marry his fiancée, according to O'Hara. The Maple Grove resident also coached youth baseball.

He was honored last year for rescuing an older couple from a house fire during his first week on duty. The day before Mitchell was killed, he jumped into a pool to save a child who was struggling to stay above water.

Many people spent Monday prepping the high school's gym for Tuesday's service, including Cardell Floral in Crystal, which built a display of flower varieties across the stage for the service.

"We created a red, white, and blue [display]. It represents his service," said Jill Lescarbeau, the owner of Cardell Floral.

Lescarbeau says while they never want to have to put together floral displays for tragedies of this nature, it is still an honor.

"It means a lot that they entrust us to do a beautiful job for them," Lescarbeau said.

She hopes their flowers can play a small part in helping Mitchell's loved ones find peace.

"When it's so hard when you're grieving, it's the softness or maybe the bit of color or the fragrance that helps," she said.  


The day before the memorial service, two young girls who live in the 5th precinct where Mitchell worked came by the growing squad car memorial to pay their respects. They wrote him a note and placed it on his squad car with dozens of other messages, showing how much Mitchell meant to this community.

One note read, "This officer saved my dad from a robbery."

Kristy Janigo, a Maple Grove resident like Mitchell, stopped by the squad memorial for the first time.

"It's very overwhelming, especially the messages from the kids," Janigo said. "I've always been kind of afraid of losing a member of our law enforcement agency, but to me, losing a neighbor is just as bad."

A group of volunteers has been watching over the 5th precinct squad car memorial around the clock to make sure it stays intact and to water the flowers every day.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the man who killed Mitchell was barred from carrying a firearm due to a previous conviction, and he was the subject of an active arrest warrant for another firearms charge.  

Mitchell was the third Minnesota police officer killed this year. Burnsville officers Paul Elmstrand and Matthew Ruge, and city firefighter Adam Finseth, were fatally shot during a standoff in February.

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