Bayle Gelle speaks at a demonstration at the gas station where his son, Dolal Idd, was shot and killed by Minneapolis police on December 30, 2020. Credit: Ben Hovland | Sahan Journal

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In response to a decision by the Dakota County Attorney to clear the Minneapolis police officers who killed Dolal Idd, a group of activists and family members will be protesting outside the Minnesota governor’s residence all weekend.

Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena announced August 6 that Minneapolis Police Officers Paul Huyhn, Darcy Klund, and Jason Schmitt were legally justified in using force. The office reviewed the case conducted by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which had been investigating Dolal for allegedly selling illegal weapons. 

“Although I have concluded the use of deadly force was justified in this instance,” Keena said in a statement, “any loss of life is a tragic occurrence and I wish to extend my personal condolences to the family of Dolal Idd for their great loss.”

In an attempt to urge Governor Tim Walz and Attorney General Keith Ellison to step in, protesters plan to meet at the governor’s residence 6–10 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

For Dolal’s father, Bayle Adod Gelle, the decision was more than just disappointing.

Bayle was in bed when he received a call from his lawyer, Jordan Kushner. The two had a conference call with Keena to discuss the decision. Bayle said the response to most of his questions were to direct them to the BCA, since the Dakota County investigation is now closed. His own children, in tears, kept asking Bayle questions he didn’t have answers to.

“We feel a lot of pain,” Bayle said. “We lost him again, and this time it was more painful.”

Bayle described how he felt when he heard the decision: His whole body was shaking. He felt uncomfortable and kept his face down with his phone to his ear. “It was a disaster,” he said.

For eight months, Dolal’s family has been seeking clarity about what happened to their son, with very little progress. For Kushner, the county attorney’s decision signals a new development. 

“The one silver lining from the Dakota County Attorney’s decision means that they can’t keep the information under wraps anymore,” Kushner said. 

Since the case file has to be made public, Kushner said he can look at the evidence and make a determination about what happened. Dolal’s family has been hoping to gain access to more security footage from the incident. If the Dakota County Attorney conducted an adequate investigation, Kushner said the case file may include more security footage.

From there, the family would have a few options, according to Kushner. They could file a civil lawsuit, call for an additional investigation, and/or hope that the U.S. Department of Justice probe into the Minneapolis Police Department leads to some accountability.

Kushner has advised the family not to file a civil lawsuit until they’ve reviewed the evidence fully.

He also raised concerns about whether the Dakota County Attorney’s Office was an appropriate choice to review the case. While the BCA led the investigation, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office assigned Dakota County to review the lawfulness of the officers who discharged firearms. 

Kushner called the previous county attorney, James Backstrom, a law-enforcement-friendly, conservative prosecutor.

“When you assign a case like that to the Dakota County Attorney, it’s part of the usual routine of making sure it doesn’t go anywhere,” Kushner said. “I can’t comment on the evidence, because I haven’t seen it, but it’s unfortunate that they have these mechanisms in place.”

There’s still one more potential avenue to pursue justice. Dolal’s case will likely be included in a patterns and practice investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department announced in April it would investigate the Minneapolis Police Department to determine if it is violating the public’s constitutional rights in three areas: routine excessive force, consistent discrimination on the basis of race, and police responses to people experiencing mental health.

Stories about Dolal from his family and friends suggest he may fall into all three categories.

Bayle has yet to hear from the Justice Department. He said he would “love to be in contact” with the federal investigators. But in the meantime, all he can do is wait for their call.

Hibah Ansari is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.