Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said Monday that her office found no wrongdoing and will not charge police in the 2022 death of Khalil Azad, whose body was found in a lake two days after he allegedly evaded a traffic stop by Robbinsdale police.
Nine months ago, the Robbinsdale Police Department requested that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigate the death and released body camera footage from the response. The investigation followed days of protests, student walkouts and demands for transparency in the death of Azad, 24. Family members and activist groups questioned the police account, alleging that Azad did not drown but rather was bitten by police dogs and beaten to death by officers.
In a news release, Moriarty said her office reviewed the findings by the BCA and found there was "no evidence that any member of law enforcement had any physical contact with Khalil after the stop."
The BCA findings were reviewed by senior attorneys in Moriarty's office before making a recommendation to decline charges, she said in the release. Moriarty's decision was shared with Azad's family members in a private meeting Monday, and with the responding law enforcement agencies.
"My thoughts are with Khalil Azad's family and loved ones in this difficult time," Moriarty said in the release. "Losing someone so young is devastating. Although this is not the result they hoped for, our victim support team remains available to help them through this extremely difficult time."
Moses Azad, brother of Khalil Azad, said Monday that he doubts the investigation findings and remains convinced that police killed his brother.
"When you read [about] it, it doesn't add up," he said in a phone call, noting he did not attend the Monday meeting with Moriarty. "We just want to get to the bottom of what really happened."
In the early morning of July 3, 2022, a Robbinsdale officer suspected Khalil Azad was intoxicated while driving and attempted to pull him over in the 4200 block of County Road 81. Azad crashed an SUV near Crystal Lake and allegedly ran from the car.
The footage from Robbinsdale officer Joshua Heasley showed him and other officers walking into the woods and backyards of homes along the lake, accompanied by at least one officer with a police dog.
Footage shows police calling off the search after more than half an hour of looking around the wooded area. Azad's body was found two days later in the lake. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled it an accidental drowning.
Moriarty said the investigation did not reveal evidence that law enforcement "did anything other than seek in earnest to locate Khalil" using dogs, a State Patrol helicopter and thermal imaging, and trying to get information from the two others in the SUV, one of whom was Moses Azad, according to a Sheriff's Office report.
Months ago, skeptics of the conclusion that Azad accidentally drowned circulated what were described as autopsy photos showing his face swollen from what they allege was a beating by police officers. The Medical Examiner's Office made no official release of photos.