Supporters of Tekle Sundberg are demanding the release of more police body camera footage and an independent investigation of his July 14 killing by Minneapolis police.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon at Minneapolis City Hall, family and friends of Tekle called for accountability for the officers who killed him. Communities United Against Police Brutality, a local activist group, also released new bystander footage of Tekle’s final moments and questioned the police narrative that Tekle was waving a gun out his window just before two SWAT team snipers fatally shot him.
“We want information, we need information, and they’re just not giving it to us,” Mark Sundberg, Tekle’s father, told reporters.
Added Cindy Sundberg, Tekle’s mother: “Our family is broken. Things will never be the same.”
The two Minneapolis officers shot and killed Tekle, 21, after a six-hour standoff that began after a neighbor in the Seward apartment where he lived called police after he fired a gun into her apartment. Tekle’s family says he was undergoing a mental health crisis. The Minneapolis Police Department previously released a 15-minute video that included snippets of bodycam footage of the incident. That video shows police rescuing the neighbor and her two children from her apartment, but does not clearly show what happened when Tekle was shot.
The newly released 12-minute video depicts Tekle’s final moments in his second-story apartment. Filmed by an unnamed bystander from across the street, Tekle is seen throughout the video standing on the window ledge and leaning outside the broken window. For much of the video, he appears to be filming himself with a cell phone or talking to someone on the phone and playing loud music. He also periodically chips away at some of the shattered glass on the window that police had earlier shot with rubber bullets.
At one point, he hauls a rectangular object—it’s not clear what it is—outside the window and displays it outside of his apartment.
The snipers shoot and kill Tekle near the video’s 9:30-minute mark. Just before that happens, Tekle appears to have something in his hand and is tapping at broken window glass. The bystanders filming the video ask themselves if Tekle is carrying a knife. The video does not clearly show what Tekle had in his hand at the moment. Activists at the news conference said they believe he’s holding either a knife or a phone.
“It appears to us he did not have a gun in his hand,” Michelle Gross, president of Communities United Against Police Brutality, told reporters at the news conference.
Gross also denied that Tekle was intentionally firing his gun at his neighbor and her two children that night. Instead, she said Tekle was firing at a mirror while looking at himself while he was in the midst of a severe mental health crisis.
Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson Garrett Parten declined to comment on the news conference, citing an ongoing investigation into the shooting by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. BCA spokesperson Bonnie Bowman also declined to comment for the same reason. She said the BCA will release all bodycam footage the agency has from the incident once the investigation is complete.
The BCA typically conducts investigations into law enforcement incidents involving officers firing shots.
Christopher Scott, an attorney representing the Sundberg family, said the family is asking both Minneapolis police and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to release all the footage and information it has from the incident. The family’s legal team is investigating whether to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city, he added.