Minneapolis police fatally shot a 34-year-old man Friday morning in the Jordan neighborhood, after officers responded to an apparent domestic incident in which the man shot a woman, officials said.
Police have not divulged the name of the man, but sources identified him as Mario Philip Benjamin of Minneapolis. The woman, thought to be Benjamin’s girlfriend, is expected to survive after being treated at a nearby hospital for a gunshot wound to the upper body.
The fatal shooting occurred about 2:49 a.m. when police said officers encountered Benjamin in the 2400 block of N. Emerson Avenue while responding to two ShotSpotter activations and a report of a person lying in the road.
The officers opened fire after repeatedly instructing him to drop his weapon, police said.
Mayor Jacob Frey lauded the officers’ actions, telling reporters at an afternoon news conference at City Hall that, “the woman is now safe thanks to their efforts.”
The officers were not injured, and they are now on administrative leave, per procedure after a shooting on duty. The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating.
Speaking at the same news conference, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said that the officers, whom he didn’t name, had their body cameras turned on during the incident. He said he did not know how many times the officers fired their weapons or what information they had when responding to the call.
While details of the shooting are still coming into focus, two sources familiar with the investigation said that earlier that night the woman had driven up to the Emerson address in her minivan, with her four children in tow. She got out of the van, the sources said, and a confrontation broke out between her and Benjamin outside of a home near the end of the block. What happened next remains hazy, but the sources said Benjamin shot the woman and was still standing over her when police arrived.
The circumstances and timeline that preceded the shooting are not yet known. A firearm was recovered at the scene.
The children were not injured, and it wasn’t clear what, if anything, they witnessed of either shooting.
Court documents show that at least two of the children are Benjamin’s. Benjamin was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm in 2004 but has had no serious criminal record for the past 15 years.
Still, some are questioning the decision to shoot. Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar, a police accountability group, said in a news release that the shooting was part of a pattern of police over-aggression in predominantly minority neighborhoods, and it demanded the immediate release of the officers’ names, as well as any video or audio of the shooting itself.
In a post on her Facebook page, civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong said she hoped the BCA would do a thorough investigation and be transparent with the results, given some of the investigative lapses revealed during the murder trial of former Minneapolis cop Mohamed Noor.
“The BCA is now investigating this tragedy, which is troubling, given their lack of credibility in investigating the actions of their fellow police officers,” said Levy Armstrong, a vocal police reform advocate.
Friday’s episode called to mind another incident in which police used deadly force to stop a suspect who was harming or threatening to harm another person. In the other case, from 2016, officers shot Raul Marquez Heraldes, 50, after he lunged at police when they forced their way into a South Side apartment and found Marquez Heraldes stabbing another man.
On Friday, Frey told reporters he will be pressing the BCA to investigate and provide details to the public as soon as possible.
In the meantime, the officers are all cooperating with the investigation, Arradondo said.
This is the third time a police officer has fatally shot a civilian since Frey took office. There have been 31 such shootings in the city since 2000, but their frequency has declined in recent years, according to a Star Tribune database of deadly police encounters.
Frey said the shooting won’t affect his upcoming budget request for more officers, which has stirred intense controversy recently, both inside City Hall and out.