A Robbinsdale police officer shot and killed a man who charged at them with a knife following a traffic stop Friday morning.
The shooting occurred shortly before 11 a.m. near the intersection of N. 38th and Noble avenues after police attempted to stop a motorist wanted on a felony arrest warrant.
Robbinsdale Police Chief Patrick Foley said the driver led officers on a short chase into a residential neighborhood, where they boxed in the man's truck. He then exited the vehicle brandishing a knife and ignored commands to drop the weapon.
"Officers attempted the use of a Taser, however that was unsuccessful," Foley said in a written statement. "The suspect continued to charge officers with the knife in an aggressive manner."
One officer fired three shots, and police gave emergency aid before the man was pronounced dead at the scene. A knife was later recovered from the scene. A passenger in the truck was not injured, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the state agency tapped with investigating police shootings. It marked the second fatal police shooting in as many weeks in the Twin Cities. Last Wednesday, 23-year-old Dolal Idd was shot and killed by Minneapolis police after firing at officers from the driver's side of his vehicle.
The suspect, who was identified only as an "adult white male," remained lying in the street covered by a sheet for nearly three hours. Police eventually erected shields to block the public's view of the body.
The man's blue pickup truck was also visible at the crime scene, surrounded by squad cars. The BCA arrived Friday afternoon to process evidence strewn about the area, including the discarded Taser. A BCA spokesperson confirmed that the shooting was captured on body camera video.
Three witnesses, who watched parts of the encounter from various angles, confirmed the police account to the Star Tribune.
One resident who lives near the scene and asked not to be identified said he saw two Robbinsdale squad cars arrive at a nearby Pump N' Munch gas station and stay for only a few minutes before a dark-colored truck fled the parking lot. Officers gave chase and stopped the vehicle less than two blocks away, blocking it and forcing it to spin.
The man appeared to get out of the car while officers had their guns drawn. Cellphone video from the witness posted to Facebook shows the officers walking backward as the suspect erratically runs toward them. An officer says, "He's got a knife!" before three shots are fired.
Peter Taves, a contractor who was meeting potential clients in the area, described seeing the police aim their weapons at the man sitting inside the truck while his back was turned.
"They were saying: "Get out of the car! Get out of the car! Show me your hands," said Taves. Taves took shelter in the homeowners' basement before shots were fired. When they came back upstairs, he saw an officer giving the man chest compressions.
"Whatever their state of mind was, I feel for that individual … you just never know the scenario that got him into that place," Taves said.
Kate Heilman's young children were playing near the front window when they alerted her to the ruckus across the street. She watched as the man exited his truck with clenched fists and advanced toward police. He appeared to dance in a circle as officers hesitated, walking backward. When she realized what was about to happen, she screamed at her kids to get away from the window.
"It looked like he wanted to die. He went straight for the police officers," Heilman said, estimating he'd gotten within 5 feet of officers before shots were fired. "This was completely justified."
About 15 minutes later, Heilman observed officers escort a woman from the front passenger side of the pickup truck. She emerged, shaking, and clutching a small white dog in her coat.
Robbinsdale residents, several of whom stood outside their homes to confer with neighbors, attempted to process another tragedy. Lorraine Huffman suspected Friday's shooting stemmed from a mental health crisis.
"I don't like them using deadly force," she said of law enforcement, "but I hope they don't take it lightly."