MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two Minneapolis police officers who fatally shot a suicidal man last November will not face criminal charges.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s office announced Thursday afternoon that Officer Ryan Keyes and Neal Walsh were “justified in using deadly force” in the fatal shooting of Travis Jordan, 36.
Jordan’s girlfriend called 911 on the afternoon of Nov. 9, 2018 to report that he told her over the phone that he was going to commit suicide at a home on the 3700 block of Morgan Avenue North.
Fourteen minutes after the call, Jordan was dead.
His girlfriend told investigators that when she told him that she called and police and officers were en route, Jordan told her “he would talk to them when they arrived.”
When the officers arrived at the home — owned by Jordan’s friend Paul Johnson — Jordan didn’t respond to their door knocking. Keyes walked to the back of the house and saw Jordan through the window in the kitchen. He gestured for Jordan to come to the front door, but he didn’t comply.
Keyes then saw Jordan go to a nearby room, where he was talking on a phone with headphones to his girlfriend. She later said Jordan told her during that call that he “was going to go down today,” and that he had knives.
Keyes said Jordan opened a window at one point, swore at him, then slammed it shut. Keyes said Jordan continued to swear and was slurring his speech. He also seemed to get angrier and angrier.
The officers went back to the front door, then contacted their sergeant, who denied them permission to force their way into the home. Keyes could then see Jordan through a window enter the porch, holding a 13.5-inch Chefmate knife with an 8.25-inch blade in his right hand.
Body camera footage shows both officers pulling out their guns before Jordan opens the front porch door. The officers repeatedly tell Jordan to drop the knife, while Jordan repeatedly screams “Let’s do it! Come on!” Walsh tells Jordan at one point, “Nope, I do not want to do this. Put the knife down and we’ll come out and talk.”
Jordan is then seen stepping out of the home towards the officers. Walsh backs away to the curb, while Keyes steps back several feet across the yard. As Jordan continues to yell and approach the officers, Keyes fires one shot, which hits a tree. Walsh then fires eight shots at Jordan — three of which strike him. Jordan later died at North Memorial Health.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said a search warrant yielded a notebook in a bedroom where Jordan was staying. Jordan left a note on the top of the first page.
“Paul [Johnson] I’m so sorry this happened at your house,” Jordan wrote.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said evidence showed that Jordan posed a “deadly threat” to the officers.
“Officers Walsh and Keyes’ use of deadly force was objectively reasonable in the face of the danger of death or great bodily harm and no criminal charges could or should be made,” Freeman said.
Johnson, the homeowner and friend of Jordan, told WCCO-TV last November that Minneapolis police do not have a mental health co-responder on staff in precincts on the city’s north side. He said they could have prevented this tragedy.
Sue Abderholden, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota, says police are often called to situations where a mental health professional is needed.
“You have to wonder, was there something else they could have done?” Abderholden said.
She believes adding a mental health co-responder to team up with police could be a good first step.
“You would hope that a mental health professional could engage someone voluntarily and really talk them down and not have them be suicidal. We know he was suicidal, so are there some other ways to engage someone so that they are not wanting to die,” Abderholden said.
After the charging decision was announced, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said he will continue to advocate for Crisis Intervention and De-Escalation Training for his officers. He will also push for more 24/7 community-based mental health services throughout the city.