The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has identified the two Minneapolis police officers who shot and killed a suicidal man wielding a knife on the city’s North Side last week.
Officers Ryan Keyes and Neal Walsh both fired at Travis Jordan, 36, after he emerged from his home in the 3700 block of Morgan Ave. N. armed with a large kitchen knife, the state agency said in a news release. Body cameras captured video and audio of the shooting.
Both officers have been with the department for 11 months and are on standard administrative leave.
Jordan, who went by “TJ,” was killed Nov. 9 after a woman, believed to be his girlfriend, asked police to do a wellness check on Jordan because she believed that he would hurt himself. According to a transcript of her 911 call, the woman is heard telling the dispatcher that he “wasn’t violent” and says he is unarmed. A search warrant affidavit revealed that dispatchers were later told that Jordan “was trying to obtain a firearm,” but it’s unclear whether that information was passed on to officers, who had already arrived on the scene.
The BCA says the officers then tried to make contact with Jordan and he emerged through the front door with the knife when he was shot.
His friends and relatives have disputed that version of events and questioned why the officers didn’t use a Taser instead of bullets to subdue someone who appeared to only be a threat to himself.
According to court records and family members, Jordan had a history of mental health issues and had been committed to a treatment facility after he began drinking heavily and started having problems at work.
In the mind of Jordan’s cousin, Malia Nzara, his death exposed the health and criminal justice systems’ shortcomings in dealing with those battling mental illness.
“I think it’s fair to say that we believe that the issue is so much greater than just the police response,” said Nzara, a teacher by trade. “It’s really a fundamental systemic change that needs to happen with mental health, and the way that situations like this are handled and responded to.”
The shooting renewed calls from some City Council members for better police responses to mental health crises, namely an expansion of the department’s mental health co-responder program, which pairs officers with counselors on calls involving individuals in the midst of a crisis.
Nzara said that relatives and friends will hold a private funeral service for Jordan on Saturday in Waseca, Minn., before his cremated remains are flown to his native Hawaii.
“We all come from Hawaii, so the spirit of Aloha was in him — Aloha is more than ‘hello,’ ‘goodbye,’ or ‘I love you,’ it’s a way of life,” Nzara said. “And he really, really did exude that and that’s how he lived his life.”