Deshawn Nelson remains hospitalized in St. Paul with “extensive” injuries after he was shot by a St. Paul police officer during a foot chase this past weekend, his lawyer said.
Nelson, 21, of Minneapolis, was charged in Ramsey County District Court on Monday with one count of second-degree assault. Police say he raised his gun toward Sgt. Jeremy Ryan while fleeing and that Ryan, a 15-year veteran of the department, shot him several times.
“We will perform our due diligence in looking into the matter,” said Benjamin Tarshish, Nelson’s attorney, in an e-mail. “We certainly have our suspicions but we’ll see where the evidence takes us.”
A 52-year-old woman was also arrested on suspicion of felony assault in connection with the shooting. She hasn’t been charged.
It’s still under investigation how many shots Ryan actually fired, said police spokesman Sgt. Paul Paulos. There will be an internal investigation into what happened, Paulos said.
According to Nelson’s complaint: St. Paul police were investigating a burglary in the 1800 block of Marshall Avenue at 4:10 a.m. when they heard about five gunshots. Ryan saw a vehicle on Marshall Avenue near Dewey Street and then Ryan flashed on his squad car’s headlights and activated his emergency lights.
The vehicle fled but then stopped abruptly when Nelson bailed out of the front passenger seat, allegedly carrying a “big handgun” in his right hand. Ryan followed him in his squad as Nelson fled down an alley.
Nelson allegedly moved across the alley, turned and pointed a handgun at Ryan.
That’s when Ryan shot Nelson but Ryan said he thought, “Why isn’t [Nelson] going down?” Nelson got away, jumping over a fence and falling with Ryan chasing him on foot. Nelson ignored orders to drop the gun and jumped over another fence and then allegedly raised the gun again. Ryan fired, and Nelson “went down hard” before he got up and staggered away, ignoring orders to show his hands.
Nelson turned and Ryan shot at him a third time, the charges said. Nelson fell in a boulevard and medics were radioed. Ryan asked a resident who came out of his home with a shotgun to “watch [Ryan’s] back” until backup came.
Paulos said there was nothing unusual with Ryan asking for help.
“I would say thank you to [the resident] … because most people would not try to get involved or act. It shows the strong partnership between our communities and our public,” Paulos said.
The incident left several bullet holes in the side of one resident’s garage and a 20-year-old college student in a nearby house with a grazed wrist. Just like in other cases where police may have been involved in a home’s damage, residents can contact the city of St. Paul to file a claim, Paulos said.
Police say Nelson wasn’t wearing any body armor. Nelson’s hands were empty when Ryan approached him, but a gun was recovered on the ground near a home in the 1700 block of Dayton Avenue that Nelson had run past. The car Nelson was allegedly riding in was found vacant about five hours later in northeast Minneapolis.
Nelson told police he fled because he thought he had warrants for not paying train fares in Minneapolis and that he had a cellphone in his hand, not a gun. Nelson does not have a criminal record in Minnesota.
“For now, he is thinking only about his family and his 3-year-old son,” Tarshish said.