Body-cam footage from the December 31 raid by Hennepin County Sheriff's deputies of a Somali home in Eden Prairie. Watching the video, state Representative Hodan Hassan said, 'No family on planet Earth should ever wake up to that terror.' Credit: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

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The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office released body-cam video Saturday evening of deputies conducting a late-night search of the family home of Dolal Idd, a 23-year-old Somali man who was fatally shot by Minneapolis police officers at a south Minneapolis gas station. 

The video’s release came after Sahan Journal published a story Friday, in which Dolal’s father, Bayle Adod Gelle, alleged that Hennepin County deputies had arrived in the middle of the night, Wednesday. Bayle, who is in his 60s, stated that the deputies pointed guns at him, his wife, Nima Ade, and three of their young children. 

Law enforcement officers proceeded to ransack the Somali family’s Eden Prairie home, while refusing to explain the reason for the search, he said. At the end of the raid—Bayle guessed it took two hours—the sheriff’s office informed Bayle and Nima for the first time that their son Dolal was dead. 

According to Bayle, the Sheriff’s Office took no evidence from the scene. In a press release Friday, the Sheriff’s Office stated that the raid was part of an “active, ongoing investigation.” 

Responding to public criticism, Sheriff Dave Hutchinson swiftly released the body-cam video which he said “tells a different story.” And he praised the deputies for their “professionalism,” saying they “acted appropriately, respectfully, and followed HCSO procedure for high-risk warrants.” 

What this phrase means is unclear, though the sheriff’s press release pointed to a search warrant indicating there may have been guns in the home. Before his death, Dolal Idd had numerous legal problems, including a criminal conviction for firing a gun in the basement of his parent’s home. An older brother, Mohamed-Amin Idd, was arrested last month on a murder charge and is being held in Hennepin County Jail. 

Saturday night, the 28-minute-long video of the raid drew a mix of responses on social media. While some commenters praised the deputy’s conduct, several activists and political leaders condemned the raid in strong terms, saying it showed a lack of concern for the family—especially the children—and displayed cultural insensitivity.  

‘We have kids upstairs, we have small children’

The entry into the home begins at the 2:35 mark in the video: Deputies wearing military-style tactical gear and bullet proof vests knock loudly on the door and yell “Police, search warrant!” as part of a “knock and announce,” search.  

The deputies push their way into the home with drawn assault rifles, and in one case, a pistol. They yell, “Hands up, and “Get on the ground!”

Once inside, one deputy points his rifle up the stairs, as another yells, “Come on down.” A woman descends the stairs, followed by Bayle, who is shirtless. They keep their hands raised above their heads. 

“What happened?” Bayle asks the deputy wearing the camera. 

The deputy answers, “Police, search warrant, get on the floor.” 

It’s a modestly decorated room with two couches, a mirror, and two pieces of abstract art hanging from the light gray walls. 

At 3:26, the camera begins to pick up the sound of a woman, who is off camera, weeping. The camera picks up a cacophony of voices, with some members of the family speaking Somali and others English. 

At 3:44, a woman pleads, “We have kids upstairs, we have small children.” And then a small boy and a skinny teenage boy in a red shirt and warm-up pants descend the stairs. 

At 6:06, a deputy on the stairs says, “Come on young man, come on down.” A woman interjects, “He’s a kid, can you guys bring him down?” 

As the deputy repeats his commands, “Come on down, go to your parents,” another woman pleads, “Can I go get him?” The deputy replies, “No, he’ll come down.”

The women, their voices growing more frantic, explain that the boy has Down syndrome and cannot come down alone. Then the deputies ask the woman, “Can you tell him to come down?” 

At 6:45, we begin to see the family’s 4-year-old boy slinking down the steps, bottom first. As he reaches a landing halfway down, he sees his family on the floor below and immediately sits down at a deputy’s feet. The deputy wearing the camera grabs him, saying “Come here, big guy,” and hands him off to a woman on the floor. 

‘Is anyone able to tell us why you have to zip us?’ 

By the 10-minute mark, the room has grown quiet, besides for hushed conversations when a group of deputies climbs the stairs with a shield and a strobe light to continue the search. One of the Somali women asks, “You still can’t tell us anything?” And a deputy promises investigators will arrive soon with more information. 

At about 13:43, one deputy tells another, “Let’s start zipping,” and they each start zip-tying—or binding—the hands of the adults. In response, one of the women asks, “Why do you need to do that?” 

At 14:14, she asks again, “Is anyone able to tell us any info on why you have to zip us?” 

A deputy responds, “That’s what we do. Everyone gets zipped. And an investigator will be in to talk to you.”

At 17:49, a woman asks deputies, “Can you guys please close that door please?” Cold air has been blowing into the house from the moment the deputies entered.

Then the deputy approaches the woman on the ground with the 4-year-old boy in her lap. She extends her hands and he zip-ties them, as the boy continues to hold her arm. 

About 10 minutes later, a woman again asks the officers to close the door. “Please close the door while people are not covered.” It’s not clear if deputies respond on either occasion. 

By then, deputies have recorded everyone’s name and date of birth. At 27:11, we hear deputies laughing, though it’s not clear why. At 27:56, a deputy tells the law-enforcement officer wearing the camera, “Names was a tricky one,” to which he replies, “I got names.”

Then, as the deputy wearing the camera makes his way out of the room, a woman deputy tells the family that they will all have their picture taken for the case file. 

‘I don’t see any respect for the family; I don’t see professionalism’

State Representative Hodan Hassan, whose district covers a large section of Minneapolis, told Sahan Journal that several aspects of the video concerned her. She criticized the deputies for  not bringing an interpreter or a social worker, neglecting to wear masks for COVID-19 safety, and zIp-tying the adults even though they were cooperating.

Hodan said she had already spoken with Sheriff Hutchinson to voice her disapproval. (Beyond the press statement issued Friday, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to questions late Saturday night from Sahan Journal about the actions seen on the body-cam footage.)

“Respectfully, I don’t know what he’s looking at, but I don’t see professionalism. I don’t see any respect for the family. I don’t see cultural sensitivity. And I don’t see compassion,” Hodan said. “And the most important thing, I don’t see people who are worried about public-health issues, because they’re coming into somebody’s home without masks.”

She said that the part of the video that “broke her,” as a mother herself, came when deputies refused to let the family help their special needs toddler down the stairs. 

Hodan wondered why the child’s mother, Nima, or a sibling couldn’t have retrieved the child—“instead of even traumatizing the child more by someone with a gun just grabbing him,” she said.  

Hodan also maintained it was culturally insensitive for the Sheriff’s Office to release the video showing Bayle with his shirt off, having just been roused from sleep. 

“Islamic and culturally, that’s wrong for people to see him without a shirt,” Hodan said. And I don’t know how many more thousands or millions of people are going to watch that video.”

Hodan added that she plans to look at what changes to state laws could prevent similar raids from happening again.

“No family on planet Earth should ever wake up to that terror. And these children are going to have some sort of trauma associated with this night,” she said. “I’m hoping that there is some process that we can either modify or change to to make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody else in the future.”  

‘There was no visible cultural competency exhibited’ 

Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN), said that the video—taken from a single officer’s viewpoint—offered an incomplete account of the night’s events. And he called for an independent investigation into the incident. 

He called on law enforcement to look beyond whether deputies technically followed procedures.  

“The reality is the policies on the books allow for them to behave this way,” he told Sahan Journal. “But the policies also allow for them for a great deal of discretion.” It’s “people of color,” he continued, who encounter police actions like this. Law enforcement would not have treated the mayor’s family the same way.

Late Saturday night, Nekima Levy Armstrong, a Minneapolis civil rights lawyer and activist, posted her own dismay to Facebook. 

After starting with a trigger warning, Levy Armstrong wrote, “Watching this video of Dolal Idd’s family’s home being raided at 2 a.m. by several mostly white male officers made my stomach turn. This raid happened hours after MPD [Minneapolis Police Department] shot and killed Dolal Idd.” 

Levy Armstrong continued, “There was no visible cultural competency exhibited or competence regarding responding to a small child with a disability. You could hear women crying, fear in their voices.”

To Levy Armstrong, the body cam footage showed a frightening encounter: “I’m sickened by the treatment of this family and the lack of sensitivity shown to them after they had just experienced a tragedy,” she said. “Officers were fully armed and storming into this family’s home as if they were going into a war zone.”

Jared Goyette

Jared Goyette is a freelance reporter based in the Twin Cities. He is a plaintiff in an ACLU class action lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis, the state of Minnesota and the MPD.