MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The black teenager shot several times by police in a north metro park in May refused to drop what appeared to be a handgun and pointed it at officers before they opened fire, authorities say.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday that the four Crystal police officers who shot at the teen will not be charged after his office concluded that they were justified in using deadly force. (Dash cam video of the shooting can be seen here.)
The teenager — Khaleel Thompson, who was 18 at the time of the May 24 shooting – suffered gunshot wounds to his back, abdomen and head. He survived, and authorities say he’s expected to make a full recovery.
“The officers not only pleaded with Mr. Thompson to drop his weapon, but used a non-lethal bean bag rifle first, in an effort to get him to drop the gun,” Freeman said in a statement announcing his decision. “All those measures failed and ultimately the officers feared for their lives and fired numerous shots.”
An investigation into the shooting was conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. According to Freeman, it found that Thompson had a history of depression and a seeming desire to be fatally shot by police.
In 2015, officers in St. Louis Park found Thompson in the street with an ax, saying that people were going to die. After police persuaded him to drop the weapon, it was later learned that he’d called 911 in hopes of being shot and killed by police.
Twice in 2016, the teenager was hospitalized because he was threatening suicide. Doctors reported that he wanted “death by police.”
In January, he again was found in the street with a weapon; this time, a knife. While in the hospital after the incident, he expressed frustration that officers wouldn’t shoot him and allegedly said: “Maybe I’ll just get a gun.”
Just two days before he was shot in May, Thompson returned to Minnesota from a treatment program in California. In just hours, the friend’s family he was staying with in Golden Valley called police, saying Thompson was talking about suicide.
Crystal police responded to the home, and Thompson convinced them he was alright. The family, however, told the teenager he needed to find somewhere else to go.
Before he left the morning of May 24, he took a pellet gun that belonged to his friend and used dark nail polish to cover the orange tip. Just before 9 a.m., Crystal police were called to Bassett Creek Park on a report of a man with a gun.
Officer Bryan Elfstrom arrived first and told Thompson several times to drop his gun, the attorney’s office says. “Not today,” the teen reportedly said.
The next two officers to arrive on the scene were Mason Barland and Txheng Vang. Barland fired two bean bags at Thompson, and one of them struck the teen, bringing him to his knees. A fourth Crystal officer, Kathleen Gomez, yelled at Thompson, saying, “What are you doing? What are you thinking?”
When Thompson got up from being shot with the bean bag, he allegedly raised the BB gun with both hands, pointing it at Barland. Elfstrom immediately opened fire, striking Thompson in the head. The other officers fired at least one shot, some multiple rounds.
Thompson fell to the ground, and officers recovered the pellet gun, a knife and his cellphone. Investigators later learned he’d made a 911 call to police just minutes before the shooting.