The videos show Map Kong thrashing around inside his car in a McDonald’s parking lot, flailing his arms and stabbing at the air with a knife.
Burnsville police officers smash out a window to stun him, twice, with a Taser.
Then Kong bolts from the car — he appears to be running away from the officers toward traffic — and they open fire. He is shot 15 times.
The bodycam videos that the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) released Wednesday, a day after a Dakota County grand jury cleared three officers in his death, capture a doomed effort by Burnsville police to subdue Kong on March 17.
As the incident unfolds, officers approach Kong’s old blue sedan in the early-morning darkness, screaming “Drop the knife!” repeatedly, to no effect.
“We can hold off a little bit here,” one officer says on the video. “We can bust the window and tase him if you want. If he gets out, I’ll go lethal.”
“This is going to go badly either way,” another responds.
“Yeah, it is.”
In just over seven minutes, Kong is dead.
Kong, 38, of Chaska, was one of six people shot and killed by police in Minnesota this year amid a national debate over police using deadly force.
A Star Tribune investigation this month revealed that at least 45 percent of those who have died in encounters with law enforcement in the state since 2000 had a history of mental illness, as Kong did, or were in the throes of a mental-health crisis.
In a statement, Police Chief Eric Gieseke said his officers “acted out of necessity.”
“They attempted to isolate and contain the situation, and evaluate options before responding,” Gieseke said. “You see multiple attempts at de-escalation — including dozens of verbal commands for Mr. Kong to drop his weapon and two Taser deployments.”
Officers are trained to use loud verbal commands when confronting armed suspects, Gieseke added in an interview.
But two mental-health advocates who viewed one of the videos questioned the approach.
Sue Abderholden, head of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Minnesota, noted that Kong appeared to be contained in the car and not hurting himself and that officers could have waited longer to act. And they could have tried to calm him down by talking to him instead of screaming, she said.
Mark Anderson, head of the Barbara Schneider Foundation, which trains officers to defuse mental-health emergencies, urged the public to watch the videos. “Is this how people would like their loved ones responded to when they’re in crisis?” he said.
Kong’s family members declined to comment. Two petitions to commit Kong to a treatment facility were filed in Ramsey County in 2005 and 2006, citing his mental illness and chemical dependency. An autopsy found that he tested positive for amphetamine and methamphetamine.
Minneapolis attorney Steve Meshbesher said that he is representing Kong’s family members and that he will make an announcement if they decide to file a civil claim.
On Tuesday, the grand jury cleared officers Taylor Jacobs and John Mott and Sgt. Maksim Yakovlev.
Although Kong appears to be running away from officers in the videos, officers told investigators they feared he would attack someone with the knife. Officers said he was running toward the parking lot’s entrance to Hwy. 13, where a long line of cars was stopped at a red light.
Of the three officers cleared by the grand jury, only Mott had gone through the five-day, 40-hour course known as the crisis intervention team (CIT) training, considered the gold standard for teaching officers to de-escalate mental-health emergencies with patience and listening skills. Another 19 officers also took the CIT course, Gieseke said.
On average, about 15 percent of officers in the state’s 12 largest law enforcement agencies have undergone the full training, a Star Tribune survey showed.