What Thurman Blevins Family told the Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and how he responded

"Did you deescalate something or did you escalate something?”

Edgar Linares
June 27, 2018 - 6:46 pm

By Edgar Linares

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The family of Thurman Blevins, the man shot by two Minneapolis Police officers last Saturday, confronted Mayor Jacob Frey and city leaders in dramatic testimony at City Hall on Wednesday.  

“We are devastated and very hurt, very hurt,” said Sydnee Brown, Blevins’ cousin as she broke into tears.

Blevins, 31, was shot by police in an alleyway after a foot chase. Authorities say the officers — Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt — were responding to reports of a man firing a gun outside.

She said urged people not to judge Blevins for his past.

“He worked hard. He was a good father, he was a good neighbor. He was a good man, despite whatever you want to pull up on him. And I’m here to let the world know that -- he was a good man."

Brown said she was concerned with how the officers initially approached Blevins as he sat on the curb with his girlfriend.

“Whatever they did that led him to say, OK I need to run and hit this block, he was afraid, and it’s not rocket science to figure that out,” she said.

It was a concern echoed by Vanessa Anderson, the mother of Blevins two oldest children.

“What my concern is, even for my children, is the approach. Did you de-escalate something, or did you escalate something?"

“The end result, whether or not he had a gun in that alley, I don’t care about that. I want to know why police took it upon themselves to jump out of that car so aggressively, with a woman there, and a little baby, in a community, people outside, with their pistols drawn?

Listen to segments of Brown and Anderson said here:

Frey responded to the Blevins family by first apologizing and then telling them he plans to release the police footage, only after they’ve been consulted.

“Talking to the family before we release the footage and hearing about your wishes, I think is really the first step in all of this, because you’re the ones experiencing the greatest level of pain right now,” Frey said.

Frey also said hearing the comments from the Blevins family and the public can sometimes be uncomfortable, but said he thinks it’s good for him to hear. He also added that the videos would be released sooner than later.

“We’re not talking about a long period of time here, we're certainly not talking about the four to six months that it often takes,” he said.

Listen to his full response here:

Authorities say the officers — Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt — were responding to reports of a man firing a gun outside. Lt. Bob Kroll, the head of the police union, has said  that Blevins refused orders to drop the gun and pulled it out before he was shoot.

Other notes from Wednesday's meeting:

Dave Picking from Minneapolis said one important question to ask is if the officers who shot Blevins saw their own video.

“And will that contaminate their statements or allow them to know what they can say, or what they can’t say,” he said.

Former Minneapolis NAACP president and civil rights attorney Nekima Levy-Pounds said she’s outraged by the shooting. Last Thursday, Levy-Pounds was at City Hall demanding accountability for the officers who directed EMTs to administer ketamine to patients.

“I talked about systemic issues impacting the Minneapolis Police Department and how it shouldn’t take another person being killed before you guys take these matters seriously. Not even two days later we have another person who was killed, not just shot, but gunned down like an animal,” she said.

Council members Cam Gordon voiced his concern about working the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in the past, and added that the council has no oversight on the Minneapolis Police Department due to a charter provision; something he said might need to change.