Once again, in an all-too-familiar scenario, a Black man has died in an encounter with police. And again, the Minneapolis Police Department and the criminal justice system are under scrutiny, making timely communication and transparency imperative. It's also essential that any related protests are nonviolent.
On Dec. 30, 23-year-old Dolal Idd drove his car to a Holiday gas station at 36th Street and Cedar Avenue and was soon surrounded by police. Information released later indicated that officers were pursuing Idd in a weapons sting operation.
Officers reportedly learned from an informant that Idd had illegal weapons, so they set up a gun buy to purchase "from a person selling firearms illegally and prohibited from possessing firearms," according to search warrant information released on Monday. Police say that Idd tried to flee and fired first before being shot and killed by officers. A bodycam video released the day after the shooting appeared to support that description of events.
Authorities carried out the weapons sting knowing that Idd was prohibited from legally having a firearm. Two years ago, he was convicted of illegally possessing and firing a gun in the basement of his home. At the time of his death, Idd was completing a three-year probationary period.
Later the night of the shooting, as part of the weapons operation, Hennepin County sheriff's deputies searched the Eden Prairie home where the Somali American man had lived with his family. The warrant sought guns, bookkeeping materials, videos and photos related to firearms possession, though nothing was recovered.
Deputies conducted the search, which included handcuffing Idd's parents, before informing them that their son had been killed — tactics that drew criticism from some community members and a state legislator.
Both MPD and the sheriff's department took the right first steps on transparency by quickly releasing videos of the shooting and the search.
Still, policy questions have been raised about how both the sting and search were carried out. A former public defender, for example, criticized the police use of informants, who often make deals with police to reduce their own charges.
Idd's shooting is the first MPD-involved death since George Floyd died in police custody on May 25. More than 1,000 protesters marched Sunday to object to the way Idd's family was treated and to demand justice.
Justice should indeed come — but only after a thorough investigation and examination of the facts. That's the job of the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Dakota County Attorney's Office. While that important work is being done, we'd urge community members to ask questions and continue to express their concerns, but only in peaceful, nonviolent protest.
As Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said during a news conference, "We want to do everything we can to protect everyone's First Amendment rights, to freely assemble, demonstrate, but … we cannot allow for destructive criminal behavior. Our city has gone through too much."