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Minneapolis police ‘justified’ in killing black man

Prosecutors said Thurman Blevins had refused commands to stop and show his hands.

Two US police officers who shot and killed a black man were justified in using deadly force, a prosecutor has announced.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Thurman Blevins was fleeing police and had turned towards them with a loaded gun before he was shot.

He had refused commands to stop and show his hands, and was clearly a danger to the officers and community in Minneapolis, said Mr Freeman.

“The decision to use deadly force against Mr Blevins under those circumstances was authorised,” Mr Freeman said.

His decision came after the city released the officers’ body-camera video late on Sunday. The announcement came by news release after Mr Freeman was shouted down at a news conference by community members where he had planned to detail the case.

Images from multiple police cameras (Minneapolis Police Department/AP)

Officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly were responding to an emergency call about a man firing a gun into the air on June 23 on the city’s north side.

The video released on Sunday shows them pulling their patrol car up and Mr Blevins sitting on a kerb near a woman with a child in a buggy.

As the officers pull up, one says: “He’s got a gun!” Mr Blevins jumps up and runs, as the officers yell: “Stop, stop! Put your hands up! I will shoot you!”

In a chase that takes less than a minute, Mr 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 Mr Blevins’ hand to highlight what appears to be a gun.

Images from multiple police cameras (Minneapolis Police Department/AP)

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

At Mr Freeman’s aborted news conference, Jeniffer Rohr, a friend of the Blevins family, criticised the officer heard saying “He’s got a gun” as their car rolled up.

“He just gave himself a licence to shoot Mr Blevins,” Ms Rohr said, adding that Mr Blevins was “assassinated”.

Lieutenant Bob Kroll, the head of the police union, said the footage proved the two officers acted justifiably.

“The officers deserve the Minneapolis Police Department’s highest award — the Medal of Honour — and the respect of the population it swore to protect,” he said.

The shooting was investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Mr Kroll said the video showed Mr Blevins fired his gun during the chase, and Mr Freeman’s report cited a bullet casing from the gun found near his body.

Mr Freeman said the officers fired 14 shots and Mr Blevins was hit four times.

Some witnesses had disputed Mr Blevins was armed, saying he was carrying a bottle or a cup. The video showed a bottle in his hand.

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