MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis police on Thursday, Dec. 31, released a short clip from an officer's body camera showing the deadly confrontation outside a Holiday gas station on the city's south side Wednesday evening, Dec. 30.
In the video, officers are heard ordering the driver of a white car to stop his vehicle and to put his hands up. The car keeps moving, but police SUVs box him in. A slowed-down version of the video released by police appears to show shards of glass from the white car's window shattering outward. More than a dozen shots then ring out.
Minneapolis police spokesperson John Elder said the 27-second video, as well as the slower version, is the only footage the department will be releasing at this time, citing the ongoing investigation. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is retaining other videos from the incident, he said.
At a news conference Thursday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said the officers executed the traffic stop Wednesday evening as part of a “probable cause” weapons investigation. He said he could not give more details on the nature of the investigation, including whether or not the victim had been charged with a crime.
Arradondo said when he watched the video, "it appears that the individual inside the vehicle fires his weapon at the officers first,” he said.
He said his officers were reacting to a deadly threat, and that the bodycam footage and eyewitness testimony confirms that. He said he believes a weapon was recovered at the scene.
Arradondo said that the BCA will be recovering more videos and other evidence through the course of their investigation.
City officials said it was unprecedented for them to release bodycam video within 24 hours of a fatal shooting. City Attorney Jim Rowader told reporters the city was committed to transparency but acknowledged, “We will be strictly limited on what we will be able to share today.”
Arradondo gave his condolences to the man's family. He also offered his sympathy and understanding to the officers involved.
He said he met with the victim’s father who was able to view the footage before it was released to the public.
“A tragic and difficult day is capping what has been a tragic and difficult year,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. He added that “raw” emotions are being felt most deeply by members of the Somali-American community.
“A father and mother are grieving. An entire community is grieving,” he said.
Authorities have yet to name the victim of the fatal police shooting, but the father of the man has identified him as 23-year-old Dolal Idd of Eden Prairie, Minn.
Bayle Gelle told reporters Thursday near the site of the shooting that his son had been shot and killed, and that he was waiting for more details about what happened. It was the first killing by Minneapolis police since George Floyd’s death on May 25, less than a mile away.
“We need justice,” Gelle said.
Gelle said on Wednesday night officers came to his family’s home and announced they had a warrant.
“They were screaming, it was loud, there was a bunch of guys, at least 20,” he said. He did not specify what agency was involved. “They were pushing us down, screaming, and said, ‘Don't move.’”
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension confirmed its agents, along with deputies from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, executed the search warrant Wednesday as part of the BCA’s investigation into the shooting.
The Minneapolis Police Department said it has a substantial body of evidence already in the case. The department said that police officers’ body cameras were activated at the time of the shooting and that witnesses nearby saw what happened. There may also be surveillance and other video from the incident, as it took place at a busy intersection.
Minneapolis police say an officer fatally shot the man around 6:15 p.m. during a traffic stop at the Holiday gas station near 36th Street East and Cedar Avenue. Spokesperson Elder said the man was killed after shots were “exchanged.” He told reporters that police suspected the man of a felony, although he didn’t offer details.
Arradondo said later that witnesses saw the man shoot first at police.
A woman who was in a vehicle with the man was not injured. No police officers were injured.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the killing. The agency will release more information about the incident and identify the involved officers after talking to them. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office will identify the man who was killed.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office released a statement Thursday saying it would not likely become involved in the case, because of a change in protocol put in place this past June. “The county attorney’s office in which the deadly force incident occurred will not be involved with the investigation and decisions on possible prosecution of the officers,” the office said.
A spokesperson said that, instead, one of Hennepin’s neighboring counties — Anoka, Dakota, Ramsey or Washington — would take the case.
Arradondo asked the community for patience as investigators collect evidence, saying that his department would protect people’s right to freely assemble but that “we can’t allow for destructive, criminal behavior.”
Police diverted traffic from Cedar Avenue soon after the shooting Wednesday night, and taped off the gas station. Residents and protesters began gathering soon after, blocking off nearby streets with vehicles. Many in the crowd chanted anti-police slogans. Some confronted the officers stationed around the gas station, where investigators were collecting evidence from the shooting.
The gas station is about a dozen blocks from what activists and community members have deemed “George Floyd’s Square,” the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where Floyd was killed by police in May — which has been closed to traffic as a memorial to Floyd ever since. Some protesters from the occupation of that intersection joined the demonstrations at the gas station.
Although the tone of the protests was angry, there was no violence directed at people by either protesters or police. Protesters played music and chanted from speakers mounted on a van. They warmed themselves around a bonfire in the middle of the intersection. Just before midnight, the van led many of the remaining protesters down closed-off Cedar Avenue, and others dispersed later on their own. No arrests were reported at the site.
On Thursday morning, the site of the shooting was relatively quiet, although police tape and some candles that had been set up in memorial remained.
The police officers involved in the shooting were part of a “community response team,” which Elder said had been investigating a recent surge of carjackings in the city.
Carjackings, shootings and homicides in the city have jumped significantly since last year. The number of killings has reached levels not seen in nearly 25 years.
Alicia Smith, executive director of the Corcoran Neighborhood Association, which has its headquarters near the site of the shooting, said she expects many people will be skeptical of the police department's version of what happened.
"Because there's such a lack of trust, there is no room for people to trust that maybe this was a situation where an officer legitimately feared for their life, versus — open season and just killing someone because they alleged that they feared for their life,” Smith said.
Jason Sole, a Twin Cities activist and criminal justice professor at Hamline University, said he is concerned about the way Minneapolis police initially identified the nature of the officers’ interaction with the victim in this case — as a felony suspect.
Sole, a Black man, has been convicted of three felonies. He said he still worries his criminal history could affect his interactions with police.
"I’m a totally different person now, so for me, I've always had that fear, that they'd say, ‘Oh man, his record.’” he said Thursday. “If I get pulled over, all my stuff from my teens and 20s pop up. And I’m 42. So every time somebody is killed, I go through a process, like 'Oh my god,' they're saying ‘felony suspect’ like that justifies it."
Incident comes in wake of George Floyd killing
The shooting at 36th and Cedar comes more than seven months after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on the neck of Floyd for around nine minutes. Floyd’s death sparked peaceful daytime protests and nights of unrest in the Twin Cities. Hundreds of buildings were damaged, including the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct building, which was set on fire.
Chauvin and three other officers were fired and have been charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s killing. Their trial is set to start in March.
In the weeks that followed Floyd’s death, members of the Minneapolis City Council announced plans to overhaul the police department, or as one council member put it, to end the system of policing “as we know it.”
The council sent a proposal to the city’s charter commission that would have allowed voters to decide if the police department should be defunded, dismantled and replaced with another agency. The proposal failed to make it on the November ballot when the charter commission decided to take more time to consider it.
That didn’t prevent the council from making changes to the police department. During the 2021 budget mark up the council cut nearly $8 million from the police and shifted it to non law enforcement-based violence prevention programs and initiatives.
Mayor Frey and Chief Arradondo have also continued to make reforms to department policies and procedures. They include restrictions on so-called “no-knock” warrants and most recently, the mayor announced changes to how the city investigates police misconduct complaints.