Editor’s Desk: Police Say He Was Armed… Witnesses Say He Was Unarmed… in the End Another Black Man Killed at the Hands of Police

Conflicting claims made after police kill black man.

Police Say He Was Armed... Witnesses Say He Was Unarmed... in the End Another Black Man Killed at the Hands of Police
Alleged Armed Man Shot, Killed by Minneapolis Police

Another black man was killed by police this weekend. This time the shooting occurred in Minneapolis Minnesota. Initial reports claim that the black man was firing a handgun as he walked around outside. Minnesota state authorities are now investigating yet another police-involved shooting of a black man.

Police allege that they received two 911 calls of a man firing a handgun into the ground and the air. Police officers were dispatched and upon arrival came across the suspect with whom they gave chase. It “ended in shots being fired,” authorities said. According to Mayor Jacob Frey the officers were equipped with body cameras and they were “on and activated.” Authorities claim that the footage from the body cameras will be released soon to the public.

Police Say He Was Armed... Witnesses Say He Was Unarmed... in the End Another Black Man Killed at the Hands of Police
Demonstrators at 4th Precinct Demand Answers in Fatal Police Shooting.

As the official story makes its rounds on social media, witnesses of the shooting have come forward denying claims that the man was armed. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Eva Watson, a witness to the shooting, told the Star Tribune, “that the man was starting to comply with officers when police shocked him with a Taser.” After being hit with the Taser, the man began to run while pleading with cops not to shoot. She reportedly heard more than a dozen shots after that.

“He didn’t have a gun or anything,” Watson said. “.?.?. He got killed for nothing.”

Another witness of the shooting, Katya Kelly, said the man killed by police was not armed but had a bottle in his hand. According to Kelly, the man was walking with his girlfriend to his girlfriend’s house while sipping out of a cup.

Drinking while black?

Although police say that body cameras would be released the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP is still calling for the immediate release of the footage to dispel any rumors about the shooting. The NAACP of Minneapolis has identified the man to be 30-year-old Thurman Blevins on their Facebook page. Authorities still have yet to confirm. KTSP reports that “officers involved did have or were wearing body-worn cameras”.

Officials didn’t immediately identify the officers involved in the shooting. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating.

“At the end of the day, we know that no matter what transpired in the moments leading up to the shooting, we know with certainty that the outcome is a tragedy,” Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement.

“These obviously are very dynamic situations that can cause folks in the community to feel trauma,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told reporters during a press conference update at the scene. “We are trying to provide as much info to the community as we receive it. Transparency is going to be very important.”

No reports so far have indicated that a gun was recovered from the scene. If in fact Blevins was armed at the time of the shooting, than police should have recovered the gun and released that information to disprove any racial bias on the part of police.

Police Say He Was Armed... Witnesses Say He Was Unarmed... in the End Another Black Man Killed at the Hands of Police“We are basically at a point of securing the scene for them while they conduct their investigation and certainly are making sure that our personnel are available to them as they will need to get information and gather more facts from them,” Arradondo said.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey issued the following statement on the matter:

I want to offer words that can help ease the pain that people in every neighborhood of our city feel tonight. But at the same time, I must recognize that whatever words I come up with will fall short of that goal.

Regardless of what happened tonight – too many times, people from across Minneapolis and the Twin Cities have been stung by the pain of a life lost in the course of an encounter with law enforcement. Regardless of what happened tonight – the historical trauma inflicted on communities of color is never far from nearly every facet of our lives.

Tonight we grieve as our memories are stirred by a now too familiar feeling – by the loss of someone’s son, brother, friend, and neighbor.

Events of the past several years, and now tonight, have tested our city in ways that are new to some neighborhoods but are all familiar for others. Strained relations between law enforcement officials and the communities they serve – especially communities of color – have exacted a toll on the very soul of our city, our region, and this nation.

My heart is heavy knowing that tonight in Minneapolis, we mark the beginning of another chapter in a painful history. In the days ahead I will continue working with Chief Arradondo to gather all the facts and take action as necessary.

The facts that we currently have are limited. But here is what we know now: This afternoon there was an officer-involved shooting, during which a man was killed. The officers arrived on the scene in response to two 9-1-1 calls indicating that a man was firing a silver 9mm handgun. The victim was armed, and the case has been referred to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) for investigation.

At the end of the day, we know that no matter what transpired in the moments leading up to the shooting, we know with certainty that the outcome is a tragedy. To everyone hurting tonight: I’m sorry.

As a fellow black man, it is hard to come to the defense of many of these other black men that are killed by police. Many find themselves in questionable positions based upon the criminal activity that they are involved in. But you do have the few that slip through the cracks where they just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time… and for them I continue to speak. Whether that is the case here remains to be seen. Police claim Blevins was armed. Witnesses claim that he wasn’t. Authorities have not confirmed that a weapon has been recovered at the scene… at least according to news reports. Only time will tell, with the release of body cam footage, if in fact this black man was armed and shooting at police. For that reason, I can not jump to conclusion but rather wait for more facts to come out and myths to be debunked.

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