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BCA identifies St. Paul police sergeant who fatally shot Howard Johnson, 24

St. Paul police officer who fatally shot Howard Johnson identified
St. Paul police officer who fatally shot Howard Johnson identified 01:04

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Authorities have identified the St. Paul police sergeant who fatally shot a man Monday night on the city's east side.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says Sgt. Cody Blanshan "fired his department handgun," killing 24-year Howard Johnson.

Blanshan has been in law enforcement for 10 years, but the length of his tenure with SPPD is not clear. He is on standard paid administrative leave. WCCO interviewed Blanshan back when he was an officer in 2017 after he and his partner helped rescue a man who fell inside a parking ramp.

Sgt. Cody Blanshan in 2017 CBS

The deadly shooting happened just after 6 p.m. Monday on the 1000 block of Hudson Road, in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood.

Police said they got a call about a domestic assault and a man with a gun. When officers arrived, they said they saw an armed man trying to carjack someone.

Officers hit Johnson with their squad car, but he was still standing and holding the gun, per police. That's when officers got out of the car, and Blanshan fired several rounds.

Johnson was shot in the torso and the leg. He went to the hospital, where he died. No officers were hurt in the encounter.

Security camera footage obtained by WCCO shows an SUV pulling out but stopping early near the corner of Earl Street and Hudson Road. Next, a pop is heard, followed by a police vehicle zipping in and a blast of gunshots.

The chaotic and deadly encounter lasted less than a minute, but according to investigators, it was only the end of an evening of violence that allegedly involved Johnson.   

MORE: Activists call on SPPD to release bodycam footage in fatal shooting

A memorial is now set up at the scene, with what neighbors call "forever candles." Neighbor Michelle Matthew is still traumatized by what she saw and heard.  

"I saw the pistol, but he didn't point it. He didn't fire it at them. It was almost like he was angry at G-d," Matthew said. "I want people to know that he was a good soul. He wasn't aiming at anybody. He shot up like he was angry at G-d … he got killed in a wrong moment."  

Howard Johnson with his mother, Monique Monique Johnson

Johnson's family is grieving and in disbelief. Monique Johnson, his mother, told WCCO Tuesday that she wants answers about what happened to her son, and says she wants to see the body worn camera video now -- and before anyone else does.

Family, friends and those who cared about Johnson gathered Tuesday at his memorial.

"My son was my protector. He was loving, he was kind," Monique Johnson said.

She says he was the father of twin 4-year-olds.

"Now they're gonna grow up without a father. I'm gonna not have my child. I can never see my baby again," she said.

They say they are trying to piece together what led to this fatal outcome.

"If their truth is their truth, then let it be seen," said cousin Rea Smith. "Why are you hiding it?"

"This is the rest of our lives. We have to go on missing him, and thinking what could've been and what should've been, but it's not, because of the police," said cousin Juanita Lingwall.


Johnson's family said he's been in trouble before. WCCO has confirmed he has domestic violence convictions and an active warrant for his arrest connected to a domestic assault case.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said he was "saddened" by the news of the killing, and that he will "ensure a thorough, timely, and transparent investigation will occur."

Agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension canvassed the neighborhood Tuesday, and reviewed police body camera footage. They plan to share details in the coming days.

MORE: St. Paul Police's "Response to Resistance or Aggression Training"

Domestic Violence Resources: For anonymous, confidential help, people can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224.

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