MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The body cameras worn by Minneapolis Police Officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly offer a hectic and vivid depiction of what they saw during their deadly encounter with Thurman Blevins in late June.
But the recordings of interviews they did with Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) offer a glimpse into what they were thinking.
The day after the body camera footage was made public, the BCA released a massive investigation file related to the case. It included more than 2,100 pages of documents, most of which were transcripts for the nearly 80 interviews BCA investigators conducted with witnesses and police. The recordings of each interview were in the file, as were dozens of photos taken at the scene.
Officer Schmidt, who was within feet of Blevins before shooting him, said he feared for his life and that of his partner when Blevins took the gun out of his pocket.
“I gave (Blevins) numerous chances to give up and he continued to escalate the situation by first grabbing onto his firearm, then clearing it from his pocket, that he kept looking over his shoulder to me as showing he wants to know where I’m at so that if he’s able to turn around he knows where to aim,” Officer Schmidt said to investigators.
A picture of the silver handgun investigators said Blevins was holding was released in the file.
Officer Kelly, who was farther behind during the foot chase, told the BCA Blevins aimed the gun at him once shots were fired.
“In a matter of about a quarter of a second, (Blevins’s) arm comes up. I hear shots and now I have, now he’s pointing a silver handgun directly at me and I remember seeing that barrel pointed right at me, and I’m pretty sure he got a shot off,” said Officer Kelly. “And I don’t know where it went, if it went off in my direction, if I’m shot, if my partner’s shot, I don’t know. But all I know is now I’m staring at this barrel this gun.”
A casing was found near Blevins’s body, but no sign of the bullet police said Blevins fired.
Although the officers were deemed justified in their shooting, Blevins supporters and the ACLU feel the officers escalated the situation when they pulled up with their guns drawn, shouting commands filled with expletives.
The woman standing next to Blevins when officers arrived was Olya Weseman, his girlfriend. Her 2-year-old daughter was in a stroller next to her.
“(The officers came) out of nowhere. I don’t know what kind of police officers come to you with their guns drawn and stuff, scary,” Weseman told the BCA. “There was not like, ‘Hey, can I see your ID?’ or anything. It was just guns drawn to me and my daughter and (Blevins).”