MINNEAPOLIS — Minneapolis police will release body camera footage of the fatal shooting of a black man "in the near future," the city's mayor said, while community activists continued Wednesday to call for greater transparency in a city with a history of high-profile police shootings that have prompted numerous protests.
Thurman Blevins Jr., 31, was shot and killed Saturday after Officers Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt pursued him on foot for several blocks and into a north Minneapolis alley. Investigators said Kelly and Ryan were responding to at least one report of a man firing a handgun.
The head of the police union has said Blevins ignored commands to drop the gun and pulled it out before the officers fired. Some community members insist Blevins was not armed and have called for the swift release of body camera footage. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says a black and silver gun was recovered from the scene.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he ordered the release of the body camera video, saying it would be released "in the near future," but only after Blevins' family is consulted and the bureau finishes interviewing key witnesses.
"These interviews must be conducted without interference," he said in a statement Tuesday. "Releasing the body camera footage prior to these witness interviews would be harmful to what we as a city collectively want: That the investigation retain its integrity and that we have a thorough and transparent account of the facts."
During a heated city council meeting Wednesday, dozens of activists and some relatives of Blevins called on city leaders to immediately release the videos and to dismiss the two officers, among other demands. Blevins' cousin, Rashan Brown, said he wants the investigation to be truthful and that anything "in the dark will come to light."
Frey told the family he was sorry.
"I wish I could somehow bring back to life black men who've been shot," he said. "I wish there was a policy that I could use that would promise this kind of thing never happened again. Sadly, I can't."
In Minnesota, investigative data is typically not made public until an investigation concludes. But state law allows for the release of material such as body camera footage if it's deemed a public benefit or dispels "widespread rumor or unrest."
According to a redacted incident detail report from the police department, Kelly and Schmidt's unit arrived at the scene at 5:31 p.m. It's not immediately clear from the report when shots were fired, but the medical examiner ruled earlier this week that Blevins died at 5:35 p.m.
The BCA said Tuesday that both officers fired their weapons and have been placed on administrative leave. Kelly has been with the police department since 2013 and Schmidt joined in 2014. The officers' full personnel files had not been released by Wednesday afternoon.
But some data released by the police department show Kelly had five complaints filed against him. All were closed without discipline. Schmidt had three complaints filed against him, two were closed without discipline and one remains open. Details about the complaints were not available.
Minneapolis has been rocked by two high-profile fatal police shootings in recent years, including the November 2015 shooting of 24-year-old Jamar Clark and last July's shooting of 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk Damond . Officers in the Clark case were not charged, and trial is pending for the officer who shot Damond.
The killings of Damond and Clark sparked multiple street protests and led to a police department shake-up, including the resignation of then-Chief Janee Harteau and stricter rules for officers' use of body cameras.
Hundreds of people protested Blevins' shooting outside a police station Sunday afternoon, followed by a vigil at the site of his shooting.