MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — State investigators on Tuesday released the names of the two Minneapolis officers who were involved in the fatal shooting of a black man, whose death prompted multiple demonstrations and calls for greater transparency from investigators.
Thurman Blevins Jr., 31, was shot and killed Saturday after Officers Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt pursued him on foot for several blocks and into a north Minneapolis alley. Investigators said Kelly and Ryan were responding to at least one report of a man firing a handgun outside. The officers arrived to find Blevins sitting with a woman on a curb before he ran, carrying a black and silver gun.
The head of the police union has said Blevins ignored commands to drop the gun and pulled it out before the officers fired. Some community members have argued Blevins was not armed, and there have been calls for the swift release of body camera footage.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is handling the investigation, said Tuesday that both officers fired their weapons and have been placed on administrative leave. Kelly has been with the police department since 2013 and Schmidt joined in 2014. The officers’ personnel files were not immediately released.
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But online records with the city’s Department of Civil Rights show an officer named Ryan Kelly had four complaints filed against him, and an officer named Justin Schmidt had two. All of the complaints are listed as being non-public and closed without discipline. The city’s website says the online records might not be complete.
Disciplinary records compiled by Communities United Against Police Brutality show that as of March, an officer named Ryan Kelly had seven complaints filed against him, including one from February that remains open. The group’s data shows an officer named Justin Schmidt has four complaints, with two still pending. Details about the nature of those complaints are not public.
The Star Tribune reported that Schmidt also worked for Minneapolis-based Archway Defense, which provides security training for law enforcement, the military, and businesses. Schmidt’s biography listed him as a military veteran, instructor and law enforcement adviser.
By early Tuesday, Archway Defense removed Schmidt’s photo and name from the website and listed his biography under “J.S.” According to the biography, he’s taught firearm and use-of-force classes within the public and private sectors since 2007.
Archway Defense founder Peter Johnson did not immediately return phone and email messages from The Associated Press.
Several people have disputed the police account that Blevins had a gun, and they have called for transparency and the swift release of body camera footage. The Minneapolis City Council has also asked that body camera video be released as soon as possible.
In a statement Tuesday night, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered the release of the body camera footage. Frey said the release will happen after Blevins’ family is consulted and the BCA finishes interviewing key witnesses.
In Minnesota, investigative data is typically nonpublic until an investigation concludes. But state laws allow for the release of material like body camera footage if it’s deemed a benefit to the public or if it dispels “widespread rumor or unrest.”
Minneapolis has been rocked by two high-profile fatal police shootings in recent years, including the November 2015 shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark and last July’s shooting of 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk Damond. Officers in the Clark case were not charged, and trial is pending for the officer who shot Damond.
Associated Press writer Amy Forliti contributed to this report.