MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The family of a 21-year-old Brooklyn Center man killed by police are demanding an independent prosecutor. This comes after Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman declined to bring charges against the officers involved.
Kobe Dimock-Heisler was shot six times by Brooklyn Center police officers on Aug. 31, 2019. The officers, county prosecutors decided, had “reasonable fear” that two other officers and the man’s grandmother were in danger of death or bodily harm. When officers fired, Dimock-Heisler had been holding a knife.
After Freeman’s announcement, the Twin Cities Coalition Justice 4 Jamar announced a press conference at 3 p.m., saying the community does not accept Freeman’s decision and demands an independent prosecutor.
“Amid growing demands for Freeman’s resignation, the people of Hennepin County need someone who’s willing to prosecute police, not act as their defense attorneys,” the coalition said in a statement. “Brooklyn Center police entered an already calm situation and escalated it into a deadly nightmare for Kobe and his loved ones.”
According to the incident report, Dimock-Heisler and his grandfather — who had raised him since he was six years old — went to Wendy’s in the early afternoon of Aug. 31. Dimock-Heisler, who suffered from mental illness and was on the autism spectrum, became angry when the Wendy’s employees got his order wrong. He began to yell at employees and then at his grandfather, who had told him to stop yelling.
The argument continued when they came home. Dimock-Heisler found a knife with a serrated edge and a hammer and told his grandfather to apologize for what he said at the restaurant.
His grandfather then slipped in to a back room and called 911.
At 4:20 p.m., officers Cody Turner and Brandon Akers responded in separate cars to the address on the 5900 block of Halifax Avenue N. On his way to the house, Turner remembered he had been the responding officer when, six months earlier, Dimock-Heisler had stabbed himself in the stomach.
When the officers arrived, the grandfather came out and said the situation had calmed down. However, the two officers, along with officers Stephen Holt and Joseph Vu — who had just arrived on the scene — said they were required to go into the house and assess the situation.
“My father called them back and said Kobe was fine, Kobe was fine and he held them at the door and said if you come in you’ll make it worse,” Jason Heisler, Kobe’s dad said.
Vu patted Dimock-Heisler down and found he had no weapons. He then had him sit in the living room with his grandmother, who handed over the hammer and knife to Turner. Vu asked him to pull up his shirt and reveal where he had cut himself. Dimock-Heisler said he had been placed on a 30-day mental health commitment and he did not want to go back.
After he put his face in his hands, Dimock-Heisler sprang up and started to run towards his grandmother. Holt and Vu moved to stop him and the three knocked over another couch in the room.
Turner, who had been speaking with Dimock-Heisler’s grandfather, came back into the room and used his Taser, to no effect. Holt and Akers also fired their Tasers. Dimock-Heisler was then able to reach into the couch and retrieve another knife that had been hidden there. According to the release, Dimock-Heisler tried to stab Vu, who was hanging on to his lower legs.
At that point, Turner and Akers each fired their semi-automatic handguns three times, striking him in the chest and neck.
All of the officers had activated their body cameras, which captured the incident.
Freeman and two other prosecutors reviewed the file, and previous rulings on the use of deadly force by officers. They concluded Turner and Akers satisfied the conditions in Minnesota law because it was necessary to protect themselves and their partners from apparent death or great bodily harm.
Heilser’s family says they will continue to push for an independent investigative organization other than the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
The BCA investigates most officer-involved shootings in Minnesota.