MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A grand jury has decided not to indict two police officers involved in the shooting death of a man who held his sister hostage in Columbia Heights last November.

On Nov. 24, 2015, Columbia Heights and Fridley police officers responded to reports of a woman running and asking for help. When they arrived at the 700 block of 40th Avenue Northeast, 45-year-old Michael Kirvelay was holding his sister hostage at the cleaning business she owns. According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Sgt. Erik Johnston of  CHPD and Fridley Police Officer Shawn Murphy fired at Kirvelay after he refused to cooperate with officers. He died on the scene.

Authorities later determined Kirvelay was under the influence of methamphetamine, and the gun he had was a replica firearm or BB gun.

Kirvelay’s family says he was suffering a mental health crisis at the time of the shooting, and that the officers shot Kirvelay unnecessarily

The grand jury determined that the officers’ actions were justified given the circumstances and the perceived threat to Kirvelay’s sister’s life.

Columbia Heights Police Chief Scott Nadeau released a statement on the grand jury’s decision.

“While Mr. Kirvelay’s death is a tragedy, we support our officers’ actions as they are in alignment with department policy, state statute, and their training for responding to these types of scenarios,” the statement read in part.

Police in Columbia Heights are required to wear body cameras. Footage from Johnston’s and Murphy’s cameras has not yet been released.


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