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No charges to be filed for death of Khalil Azad, man found in Robbinsdale lake days after police encounter

Police release body cam footage of traffic stop before Khalil Azad’s death
Police release body cam footage of traffic stop before Khalil Azad’s death 01:12

ROBBINSDALE, Minn.  — No charges will be filed in connection to the death of 24-year-old Khalil Azad, whose body was found in a lake two days after he allegedly ran away from police during a traffic stop.

Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty announced Monday that the office found no evidence of "inappropriate behavior by law enforcement" after a thorough review of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's investigation into the incident.

According to Robbinsdale Police, Azad was behind the wheel of a white SUV on the morning of July 3, 2022 when he sped away from a DWI traffic stop, drove the wrong way in traffic, hit a ditch and then crashed on the 3900 block of Lakeland Avenue North off of Highway 81, near the shoreline of Crystal Lake.

RELATED: Students help lead call for answers in the death of Khalil Azad

Police say Azad then fled into the wooded area along the shoreline and wasn't found. On the afternoon of July 5, Azad's body was discovered floating in the lake by a passerby.

Khalil Azad WCCO

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office ruled in September of 2022 that Azad's official cause of death was from "freshwater drowning" and ruled the manner of death an accident. However, Azad's family pushed for more information, alleging he had been bitten by dogs and beaten to death by police. They also added that he knew how to swim.

The family said autopsy photos showed dog bites on Azad's face, which were not accounted for in the examiner's report. Those photos circulated on social media, leading some who saw them to question what police say happened.

The medical examiner indicated no finding that "any apparent injuries or Azad's death were either self-inflicted or caused by another person."

Robbinsdale Police Chief Patrick Foley asked the BCA to conduct an independent review of the incident. The department soon after released the body camera footage "in an effort of transparency."

Body and squad car camera footage from three officers – identified by the surnames of Heasley, Heifort and Phenow – was released on March 7.

Footage shows officers walking through the woods with K-9s, but they don't appear to ever find anyone.

Azad's family responded to the footage by saying that it shows several other officers at the scene, which differs from what was noted in the police report. They also said they were shown all the footage simultaneously in a grid form, which made it difficult to watch.  

The family asked for full transparency from all agencies involved.

Moriarty shared the decision with Azad's family in a private meeting, according to the county attorney's office.

NOTE: The video above is from March 7, 2023.

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