Man with knife shot by Minneapolis police officer

  • Article by: JOY POWELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 1, 2012 - 8:23 PM

A Minneapolis cop wounded a man who refused to drop his weapon as he approached threateningly, police said.

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On the median of Lyndale Avenue S. near the intersection of Franklin Avenue W. in Minneapolis, a police officer shot and wounded a man who was threatening an officer with a knife around 9 a.m. this morning.

Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

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A Minneapolis police officer shot and wounded a man who was threatening him with a knife Sunday morning in south Minneapolis, police said.

Robert John Yellow Wolf, a 43-year-old Minneapolis man with a history of nuisance crimes and assaults, was treated at Hennepin County Medical Center for gunshot wounds that were not life-threatening, police said.

Police were called to the intersection of Franklin Avenue W. and Lyndale Avenue S. about 9 a.m. by a woman who said she was being accosted by a man, according to police spokesman Sgt. William Palmer.

When an officer arrived, the man threatened him with a knife. The officer ordered him to drop the knife, but he refused and approached the officer in a threatening manner as the officer retreated, walking backward across two lanes of traffic, Palmer said.

When the man kept approaching, the officer warned him to put the knife down and finally shot him "because of the threat to his own safety and the safety of the public," Palmer said. The officer immediately called for medics to treat the man, later identified as Yellow Wolf.

No information was available from the hospital on Yellow Wolf's condition Sunday evening.

Yellow Wolf's name and photo have appeared on neighborhood watch sites that warn of his nuisance crimes. He also is known for panhandling near freeway ramps downtown, including in the area where he was shot.

He has served several stints in the Hennepin County Adult Detention Center and county jail over the past decade. State records show he's on probation for theft, trespassing, loitering with an open bottle, riding transit without paying and making a false police report. A gross-misdemeanor trespassing case put him behind bars for three months last year.

In early 2009, Yellow Wolf also served three months for domestic assault, followed by two years of probation. And in 1992, he was convicted of aiding and abetting third-degree assault. Records show he was sentenced to 18 months, and placed on probation for five years then.

Yellow Wolf grew up in South Dakota, but over the years has been homeless at times in Minneapolis, according to published stories on panhandlers in which he was quoted objecting to city discussion about restricting where and how panhandlers beg.

On Sunday, police listed Yellow Wolf's residence as a house on W. 33rd Street off of Lyndale Avenue, about 15 blocks from the shooting scene.

The officer who shot Yellow Wolf is a 24-year veteran of the force who has not been identified, Palmer said. He was placed on standard administrative leave as police continue to investigate.

For at least an hour after the shooting Sunday morning, spent shells lay in the southbound lane of Lyndale, near the left-turn lane onto Franklin, near Rudolph's Bar-B-Que.

It was the second officer-involved shooting in Minneapolis over the weekend. On Friday night, an officer was wounded, apparently by police gunfire or a ricochet, when he and another officer fired at two dogs threatening them during an attempt to arrest a fugitive on the city's North Side. The fugitive was taken into custody Saturday.

Staff writers Jon Tevlin and Pamela Miller contributed to this report. jpowell@startribune.com • 651-925-5038

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