Minneapolis police shot and killed a man they say fired first during a traffic stop on the city's south side Wednesday night.
Hours afterward, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he will release body camera footage of the shooting Thursday.
It was the first police killing in Minneapolis since the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of four since-fired police officers. Floyd's death spurred protests and rioting that spread nationwide and prompted an intense, often bitter debate about the future of the Minneapolis Police Department.
After Wednesday night's shooting, a crowd of about 100 protesters congregated near the scene and at times grew tense, shouting expletives and throwing snowballs at police. Later in the evening, protesters remained relatively peaceful as they gathered at a bonfire built in the street.
The shooting occurred as officers tried to stop the man, whom they described as a felony suspect, about 6:15 p.m. at the Holiday gas station at E. 36th Street and Cedar Avenue. Arradondo said witnesses reported that the suspect fired first, and that "police officers then exchanged gunfire with the suspects." A woman also in the car was not hurt.
Arradondo said he would move quickly to release the footage, and he pleaded with protesters to remain peaceful and to allow the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which will take over the investigation, to do its work. He said his officers would respect protesters' constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech but that "we cannot allow for destructive criminal behavior."
"As chief, I recognize the trauma that our city has been under, and we want to do everything we can to maintain the peace," he said. "Our city has gone through too much. We need to keep our officers safe, we need to keep our community safe, and I tell you, we need to preserve that crime scene."
In a prepared statement, Mayor Jacob Frey echoed Arradondo's pleas for peace, saying, "Events of this past year have marked some of the darkest days in our city. We know a life has been cut short and that trust between communities of color and law enforcement is fragile. Rebuilding that trust will depend on complete transparency. ... We must all be committed to getting the facts, pursuing justice, and keeping the peace."
Police did not reveal the identity or race of the man who was shot or those of the officers involved, who are members of the Community Response Team (CRT), a specialized unit focused on high-crime areas, drugs and prostitution. "Those officers have all been isolated and they're waiting to be interviewed" by the BCA, said police spokesman John Elder.
Arradondo said he did not know whether any verbal or other exchange between the officers and suspect preceded the gunfire.
According to emergency dispatch audio, an officer radioed immediately after the shooting: "Shots fired! Officer needs help!"
"We have two people inside the vehicle, one male is down, we still have one female in the car with her hands up," the officer said.
"We need perimeter, we need perimeter!" an officer said, keeping Cedar clear for medics. Officers were advised to keep their body cameras turned on.
About an hour after the shooting, a crowd began to gather near the scene, demanding more information and shouting at police.
According to dispatch audio, an officer asked at one point for permission to use a 40 mm launcher because "they are starting to throw ice balls at us." Launchers are authorized only "to stop imminent physical harm to officers," dispatch said.
"Can you clarify what is authorized at this point?" one officer asked. They were told handheld aerosol, such as pepper spray, could be used to stop "assaultive conduct."
After criticism of how police handled protests after Floyd's death, the city reached an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights that limited who in the department could authorize the use of "crowd control weapons." It included in that definition "chemical agents, rubber bullets, flash-bangs, batons, and marking rounds." Under the new rules, only the chief could authorize their use.
The deal came after the Department of Human Rights filed a civil rights charge against the city related to Floyd's death and announced that it was investigating whether police had engaged in racial discrimination.
City leaders continue to debate how to change policing and public safety, struggling to balance competing demands from those who want them to abolish the department and others who want more officers as police struggle to reduce crime during an especially violent year.
Shortly after Floyd's death, a majority of City Council members promised to work toward "ending" the department, with varying ideas on how to do that. In the months since, they have cut roughly $9 million from the department's budget, often by moving the money to other city services, such as violence prevention programs.
Debates about violent crime and police and public safety reform have dominated discussions in the city.
Violent crime has surged in Minneapolis this year, at times rising in more prosperous neighborhoods that typically experience few of those incidents, but taking its largest toll in the city's poorer, ethnically diverse areas.
More than 500 people have been shot in the city this year, the highest number in 15 years. Carjackings also rose dramatically.
Susana De Leon, founder of the Abogados law office near the shooting site, said her clerks heard the gunshots from the gas station after she left work. She returned to erect a memorial for the man killed and for a grieving community.
"In the community, we're all suffering," De Leon said. "There's a lot of pain right now."
Staff writers Kim Hyatt, Andy Mannix, Liz Navratil and Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.