The two Minneapolis police officers seen in bodycam footage shooting an armed man during a frantic foot chase won't be charged in the incident, a prosecutor announced in a Monday statement -- issued minutes after protesters forced officials from a live press conference, threatening "consequences" if the cops weren't arrested.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Monday in a press release that charges will not be filed against officers Justin Schmidt and Ryan Kelly in the June 23 shooting, saying 31-year-old Thurman Blevins was a danger to them and the community.
“When Mr. Blevins fled from the officers with a loaded handgun, refused to follow their commands for him to stop and show his hands and then took the gun out of his pocket and turned toward the officers, Mr. Blevins represented a danger to the lives of Officer Schmidt and Officer Kelly, “ Freeman said in a statement. “Their decision to use deadly force against Mr. Blevins under those circumstances was authorized by Minn. Stat. § 609.066 and as such there is no basis to issue criminal charges against either officer.”
Freeman made his announcement in a news release after he was shouted down by community members at a news conference. Family members and activists demanded the officers be arrested in the next 48 hours or else "there will be consequences," Blevins' cousin, Sydnee Brown, told reporters.
A transcript of the 911 call previously released by the city included pleas from a caller to send help because a man with a bottle of liquor was firing a handgun in the air and into the ground, the Star Tribune reported.
The bodycam video released Sunday shows the two officers pulling their cruiser up to Blevins, who's seated on a curb near a woman with a child in a stroller. As the officers pull up, one says, "He's got a gun!" Blevins jumps up and runs, as the officers yell "Stop, stop! Put your hands up! I will f------ shoot you!"
During a chase that takes less than a minute, Blevins yells back, "I didn't do nothing, bro," ''Please don't shoot" and "Leave me alone." An enhanced version of the video has a red circle drawn around Blevins' hand to highlight a gun.
After the chase continues down an alley, Blevins is shot while still running. Investigators said both Kelly and Schmidt fired their weapons and an autopsy showed Blevins was shot multiple times.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, said in a seperate news conference on Monday that officers “were forced to fire" at Blevins "only after he pointed a gun and fired at the officers.”
"The officer's deserve the Minneapolis Police Department's highest honor, the medal of honor, and they deserve the respect of the population they were sworn to protect," he said.
Kroll said that Blevins gave the officers pursuing him no other option when he ran from them while pointing a gun at the officers and firing a shot.
"You shoot until the threat ends," he told reporters.
Investigators have said the officers arrived to find Blevins sitting with a woman on a curb before he ran, carrying a black and silver gun.
A gun was recovered at the scene, but some witnesses had disputed that Blevins was armed, saying he was only carrying a bottle or a cup.
Brown told the Star Tribune family members were shown the video before public release, and that it showed to her that Blevins wasn't a threat to police.
"He didn't deserve to die," Brown said. "He wasn't a threat when [the officers] approached him. They didn't view him as a human being."
A protest of Blevins' death was planned for Tuesday afternoon at the Hennepin County Government Center, according to FOX9.
Blevins' death prompted earlier demonstrations and community advocates demanded transparency and urged the swift release of body camera footage.
Minneapolis has been rocked by two high-profile fatal police shootings in recent years, including the November 2015 shooting of Jamar Clark, 24, and last year's shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, 40. Officers in the Clark case were not charged, and a trial is pending for the officer who shot Damond.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.