BCA Investigating Fatal Columbia Heights Police Shooting

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Columbia Heights police officer and a Fridley police officer are now on administrative leave after shooting and killing a man inside a business overnight.

It happened in the 700 block of 40th Avenue Northeast in Columbia Heights early Tuesday morning. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says the officers fired their guns after a man with a weapon refused to cooperate.

But WCCO has learned that the suspect’s family says he was carrying a BB gun.

“Our officers in Columbia Heights were dispatched to a report of a woman who was running, asking for help,” Columbia Heights Police Chief Scott Nadeau said.

That woman was Jamie Castilla. She says she is the sister of the man police shot and killed inside the cleaning service business that she owns.

“I’m hurt, like, it’s wrong. He’s a good guy, he didn’t deserve that,” Castilla said.

Michael Kirvelay (credit: CBS)

Michael Kirvelay (credit: CBS)

She says his name was 45-year-old Michael Kirvelay, and he showed up at the door of her business as she and her two sisters and a friend were packing up, preparing to move.

Castilla says Kirvelay appeared emotionally distressed, so she ran to the nearby police station for help. When officers arrived they confronted Kirvelay, who she says was holding a BB gun.

“My sister said she was telling them, ‘Please, we’re not hurt, everything’s OK, it’s not a real gun.’ He was saying, ‘It’s not a real gun, don’t shoot me,’ and they shot him in his face,” Castilla said.

She says she went to get the police because two weeks ago, her brother’s behavior drastically changed and she was worried something bad would happen.

Jamie Castilla (credit: CBS)

Jamie Castilla (credit: CBS)

“He started having seizures and acting delusional, like something was wrong. I think he has like his brain bleeding or a tumor or something,” Jamie said.

The BCA is handling the investigation and says the man produced a weapon and then refused the officers’ calls to show his hands. That is when they fired.

“There’s no reason they had to shoot him in the face. They shouldn’t have shot him like that. They could have shot him in his arm, his leg, Tazed him. But just kill him? That’s a shot to kill, like in his face?” Castilla said.

The Columbia Heights officer was wearing a body camera.

“Good, that’s a good thing then. They know they’re wrong, and it should show everything,” Castilla said.

All of the 27 sworn officers in Columbia Heights wear body cameras. They are turned on whenever the officers interact with the public.

The BCA says it is interviewing witnesses and officers, as well as reviewing body camera footage.

Officials say the findings will be turned over to the Anoka County Attorney’s Office when the investigation is complete.

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