MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Police released body-camera video Wednesday from a six-hour standoff that ended with officers fatally shooting a Black Minneapolis man, but the images did not show whether he was holding a gun or threatening officers.
Andrew Tekle Sundberg, 20, was shot by two police snipers early last Thursday, authorities said. His family has said he was experiencing a mental health crisis.
Mayor Jacob Frey and interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman declined to characterize the footage from officers at the scene, citing an investigation by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. They took few questions from reporters at a news conference.
Police spokesman Howie Padilla said the city had not yet identified video “that shows the clearest image” of what happened, and he urged anyone who might have other videos to come forward.
The mayor and police have been under heavy pressure to speed the release of videos and other information on police shootings. Sundberg was killed just over two years after the killing of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin, and a few months after the killing of Amir Locke by a Minneapolis SWAT team member just seconds after the team burst into an apartment on a no-knock search warrant.
The police videos included audio of gunshots and officers saying “shots fired,” but the recordings did not make clear whether it was Sundberg or police who fired the shots.
Huffman said she had met with Sundberg’s parents and that they had seen the videos.
The family’s attorney, Jeff Storms, said Sundberg’s parents “send their deepest sympathies to all of those impacted by Tekle’s mental health crisis.” He said they also hope any bystanders with video of the shooting will come forward.
Police went to the scene the night of July 13 after a 911 call from a neighbor of Sundberg’s who said he was firing a gun into her apartment, endangering her and her 2- and 4-year-old sons. One video from an officer in a stairwell showed officers bringing them to safety, an action that Frey and Huffman highlighted.
Officers “rescued a mother and two children who were frightened and vulnerable — all during an active shooter situation,” Frey said. Huffman said the officers “demonstrated bravery under fire, a commitment to protecting the public and a determination to use communication whenever possible.”
Police tried for hours to persuade Sundberg to surrender and brought his parents to the scene. Officers can be heard on one video, from an officer on ground level, telling him just minutes before he was shot at 4:18 a.m. that he was under arrest.
“We don’t want to hurt you, we just want to go home,” one officer said.
The video from ground level showed Sundberg leaning in and out of his third-floor window, but it did not make clear what he may have been holding, nor did it show him being shot.
A video from one of the snipers across the street did not show Sundberg at all, but one officer could be heard asking “Is that a cellphone?” before saying the word “gun.” The other officer also appeared to say “gun.” Two shots could be heard. It also appeared to show one officer pulling the trigger of his rifle.
Investigators collected a .38-caliber handgun with an extended magazine from a bed in Sundberg’s apartment, and live .45-caliber cartridges from a closet and a bowl in the living room, according to search warrant affidavits released Friday.
John Baker, a professor of criminal justice studies at St. Cloud State University who trains aspiring officers, said in an interview Tuesday that the key question to determining if the shooting was justified was whether there was an imminent threat to officers or others at the specific time they fired.
The shooting of Sundberg, who often went by his middle name of Tekle, stoked some activists’ mistrust of the Minneapolis Police Department and their perception that officers are quick to take Black lives while going to greater lengths to capture white suspects alive.
Trahern Crews, a leader of Black Lives Matter Minnesota who led a protest at the scene Saturday, said he hopes clearer video exists, since the video released Wednesday doesn’t show if Sundberg was holding a gun at the time he was shot.
“It’s hard for us to accept the police narrative. … You can hear the shooting and what happened, but you can’t actually see what happened,” Crews said.