Funeral services have been scheduled for the man fatally shot by Minneapolis police last month, and the head of the state agency investigating the shooting has agreed to join a neighborhood meeting next week as community members press for details.
Thurman Blevins' body was released to his family Thursday. Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. next Saturday at Faith Deliverance Holiness Church, 1119 Morgan Av. N., Minneapolis, said Melanie Parrish, a funeral director at the Billman-Hunt Funeral Chapel in Minneapolis. Visitation will begin at 10 a.m.
Drew Evans, superintendent of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), will meet with community members at Webber Park, 4300 Webber Parkway, from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.
Justin Terrell, executive director of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage, said Evans will "discuss the process" but cannot give details about the investigation. The event will provide an opportunity "to engage with the BCA about the investigation," he said.
"We're partnering with members of the community who are concerned about the Blevins case," Terrell said.
Blevins, 31, who was black, died of multiple gunshot wounds in the alley on the 4700 block between Aldrich and Bryant avenues N. The police officers who shot Blevins, Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt, are on paid leave pending the investigation's outcome.
Police said they received a 911 call reporting that an apparently intoxicated man had a handgun and was firing it into the air and ground. Several witnesses said Blevins was carrying a bottle or cup and that they did not see a gun before he was fatally shot about 5:30 p.m.
Three days after the shooting, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey pledged to make public the two officers' body camera videos after all witnesses had been interviewed by the BCA and the videos were reviewed by the family.
Despite demands for the immediate release of the videos, including by activists at a downtown demonstration on Friday, Mychal Vlatkovich, a spokesman for Frey, said, "I would hesitate to put a time on [its release] right now." He said the mayor's office has not received word on when the interviews would be completed.
"We want to see the video released as soon as possible," Terrell said, adding that the second half of next week's meeting will be "addressing the trauma around officer-involved shootings in the historically oppressed black and African communities."
Lt. Bob Kroll, head of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation, previously called the shooting "nothing short of heroic activity," adding that the officers gave Blevins "numerous commands" to drop his weapon before they fired. Kroll was not immediately available for comment Friday.
Al Flowers, a community activist, said he's involved in organizing another meeting at the Minneapolis Urban League, 2100 Plymouth Av. N., from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. He said Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Art Knight is collaborating with activists on the meeting, and there will be other speakers.
Flowers said he was concerned that some activists are "trying to stir it up" in the aftermath of the shootings and that one purpose of the gathering is to discuss "how we are going to deal with this when incidents like this happen."
Jeanette Blevins, an aunt of the deceased man, said Friday that she believes the officers should be fired for their actions.
Joy Marsh Stephens, manager of race and equity for the city of Minneapolis, said her office is reimbursing licensed counselors and "cultural healers" for the cost of healing services provided to people in the community.
"There are people in the black community who feel very traumatized by the event," she said.
Several private meetings have been held to discuss with the police how to work with the community, depending on how people might react once the videos are released.
Sasha Cotton, the city's youth violence prevention coordinator, said she has also attended several planning meetings. "The purpose is to try to ensure there is sensitivity in the community around the incident," she said.
Public court records show that the BCA has filed several search warrants in connection with its investigation of the shooting. One warrant seeks the video from surveillance cameras at an apartment complex at 4643 Lyndale Av. N., next to the apartment house where Blevins lived; a second sought the records of North Memorial Health Ambulance Service, which transported Blevins, in order to get additional information on his injuries; and a third seeks the personnel and disciplinary records on the two officers who shot Blevins.