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Prosecutor: No charges for Minneapolis officers in black man's fatal shooting

Minn. community outraged after officers cleared

MINNEAPOLIS -- A Minnesota prosecutor says he won't charge two police officers in the fatal shooting of a black man last month. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says 31-year-old Thurman Blevins fled from officers with a loaded handgun and refused to follow commands to stop and show his hands. Freeman said Blevins turned toward the officers with the gun in his hand before he was shot on June 23.

Minnesota authorities release bodycam footage of Thurman Blevins shooting

"The decision to use deadly force against Mr. Blevins under those circumstances was authorized," said Freeman, adding that officers fired 14 shots and hit Blevins four times.

Freeman says there's no basis for criminal charges against the officers. He says Blevins was a danger to them and to the community.

Freeman made his announcement via news release after he was shouted down by community members at a news conference. Family and friends of Blevins took the podium after his exit, reports CBS Minnesota. Some shouted, "It's murder." 

Blevins' relatives previously called for both officers to face criminal charges.

"Mike Freeman, you better think long and hard about prosecuting these officers," a family member of Blevins said. "We're not angry. We're more so disgusted."

Thurman Blevins WCCO

Officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly were responding to a 911 call of a man firing a gun into the air and into the ground on the city's north side. A document released by the prosecutor's office said the 911 caller stated "it's just not safe around here."

"The severity of the crime which the officers were responding to makes this a more dangerous situation going in and weighs in favor of the reasonableness of using deadly force," the document said.

Jeniffer Rohr, a friend of the family, referred to audio in which one officer is heard saying "He's got a gun" as their squad car rolled up to where Blevins was seated on a curb.

Officer Ryan Kelley BCA

"He just gave himself a license to shoot Mr. Blevins," Rohr said.

The video released Sunday shows the officers them pulling their cruiser up and Blevins seated on a curb near a woman with a child in a stroller. As the officers pull up, one says, "He's got a gun!" Blevins jumps up and runs, as the officers yell "Stop, stop! Put your hands up! I will (expletive) shoot you!"

In a chase that takes less than a minute, Blevins yells back, "I didn't do nothing bro," ''Please don't shoot" and "Leave me alone." An enhanced version of the video has a red circle drawn around Blevins' hand to highlight what appears to be a gun.

After the chase turns down an alley, Blevins is shot, still running.

The head of the Minneapolis police union said Monday that body-camera footage proved two officers acted justifiably in the shooting. Blevins gave the officers pursuing him no other option when he ran from while pointing a gun at the officers and firing a shot, Lt. Bob Kroll said.

"You shoot until the threat ends," Kroll said.

Investigators have not previously said that Blevins fired a shot as he fled officers. The prosecutor's office said a shell casing recovered from the area in which the 911 caller reported a man to be firing his gun and was determined to have been fired from the gun found near Blevins' body.

The shooting has been under investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It wasn't immediately clear whether the BCA had finished its work, and officials didn't immediately respond to messages Monday.

Investigators have said the officers arrived to find Blevins sitting with a woman on a curb before he ran, carrying a black and silver gun. A gun was recovered at the scene. Some witnesses had disputed Blevins was armed, saying he was carrying a bottle or a cup. He appeared to have something in each hand when he first ran.

Officer Justin Schmidt BCA

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said Blevins' family viewed the video about an hour before it was released publicly. He called Blevins' death "tragic," but declined to comment on what the footage showed.

"I know that right now in our city there's a lot of pain," he said. "Pain in many cases that I cannot understand."

Sydnee Brown, a cousin of Blevins, told the Star Tribune that the video confirms her belief that he was not a threat to police.

"He didn't deserve to die," Brown said. "He wasn't a threat when (the officers) approached him. They didn't view him as a human being."

Blevins' death prompted earlier demonstrations and community advocates demanded transparency and urged the swift release of body camera footage.

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