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Minneapolis released body camera videos and incident reports Wednesday that revealed new details about the fatal police shooting of Tekle Sundberg, including detailed plans to use less lethal force in the six-hour standoff.
During a news conference at City Hall, police showed a 15-minute video, which includes body-cam footage from four Minneapolis police officers. The footage shows only the first and final moments of the standoff. A week earlier, on July 14, two officers shot and killed Sundberg, 20, through the window of his apartment.
Also on Wednesday, the Minneapolis Fire Department publicly disclosed incident reports showing that police had plans to use rubber bullets and gas to resolve the standoff. Instead, two Minneapolis SWAT-team snipers fired at Sundberg from a rooftop across the street. The body-camera footage does not show the snipers giving any warning to their colleagues, who stood on the ground, closer to Sundberg and his apartment.
At 4:05 a.m., reports from the fire department say, “All personnel ensure you have gas masks with you. Currently setting up a gas plan.”
The snipers fire at Sundberg 13 minutes later, the reports say, after police see him at the window with “some sort of object” and “threatening to shoot officers and breaking out more of the windows.”
Appearing at the press conference, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey offered qualifications about what the video would show. “The objective here in releasing this body-cam footage is to be transparent,” Frey said. “We very intentionally will not narrate what you will see.”
City officials said Sundberg’s parents watched the video Wednesday afternoon, prior to its public release. Family members have said that Sundberg was experiencing a mental health crisis at the time.
Please be aware the video, below, is graphic and shows gunshots. We have included a detailed, written breakdown of the video, in the rest of the story.
No video footage of Sundberg holding or firing a weapon
Minneapolis police explained in a July 16 Facebook post that the department collected hundreds of hours of body camera video and audio recordings, from 50 officers involved in the incident.
The condensed video released at the July 20 press conference shows four segments of the standoff as seen through the body cameras of four different Minneapolis police officers. The last footage comes from Officer Zachary Seraphine, one of two police snipers who shot at Sundberg.
None of the body-cam segments show Sundberg holding or firing a weapon.
After releasing the footage, police spokesperson Howie Padilla closed the press conference with a renewed request that news organizations or public witnesses provide footage of the standoff’s final moments to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state agency investigating the incident.
Along with four segments of body-cam footage, the 15-minute video includes slides of text from Minneapolis Police, which, in effect, narrate the account.
Minneapolis police arrive on scene, rescue 911 caller and her children
Minneapolis police responded to a 911 call at 9:34 p.m. from a woman who reported that someone had shot through the wall and into her apartment. Her two young children were also present. A woman named Arabella Foss-Yarbrough has publicly identified herself as the 911 caller. An incident detail report—a log compiled by emergency responders—confirms that identification. Foss-Yarbrough has not responded to requests for comment from Sahan Journal.
Minneapolis police explain in a slide of text that the first segment begins when an Officer Kapinos, “arrives at a locked metal fire door on the third floor of the stairwell. Between the time Officer Kapinos arrived and the mother and her two children were moved to safety, multiple gunshots are audible.”
At 9:39 p.m., the video shows Kapinos knocking on the stairwell door multiple times over the course of a minute. He then speaks into a radio asking to have the 911 caller come and open the door.
Kapinos announces “police,” and “police department,” a few times. At 9:41 p.m., the video shows a gunshot hitting the metal door from the other side. A second shot sounds four seconds later and then another shot three seconds after that. The video shows a cat running up the stairwell.
“Shots fired inside the door stairwell,” Kapinos says. “I am not in, but they’re shooting through the door.”
Another officer arrives in the stairwell. They announce “police” again.
The video shows a neighbor opening another door, across the stairwell, as the officers quickly urge her to stay back and close the door.
More officers arrive by 9:42 p.m. A woman opens the door with her hands up. As officers pull her out of the doorway, another shot rings out in the video. The woman yells, “My kids are in there.”
Two young children, their faces blurred, appear in the doorway. The officers yell “Come here,” and lead them out. The woman is heard crying and yelling, “My kids.”
The stairwell scene ends here, and the video compilation video switches to slides with text. In this written account, the police note that additional shots were heard and that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is working to determine the total number of shots fired. Officers continued evacuating residents and established a perimeter around the apartment.
At approximately 9:57 p.m. the Minneapolis Police SWAT team responded, according to the video. The Minneapolis Police Crisis Negotiation Team came to the scene at 10:07 p.m. Sundberg’s parents arrived at 12:30 a.m. and began working with negotiators.
“MPD took many steps in order to peacefully resolve the situation, including working with the parents to send phone calls, text messages, and video messages to Mr. Sundberg,” the written police account reads. “They also repeated many times over the public address system that MPD wanted to connect Mr. Sundberg with his parents.”
Sundberg talks on phone in the minutes before his death
The next video segment, from 4:15 a.m., comes from the body camera of a Sergeant Kelly. Kelly’s hand briefly obstructs the camera’s view “while he activates the microphone to his radio,” according to a caption in the video.
The video shows Sundberg hanging out his apartment window.
“Come out your apartment door with your hands up,” Officer Kelly says to Sundberg. ”You’re under arrest. We’re not going anywhere.”
Sundberg appears to be speaking on the phone. Kelly continues to tell Sundberg to come out the door with his hands up. There is also music playing at the apartment.
“Mr. Sundberg, we need you to come out and cooperate with us,” Kelly says. “We don’t want to hurt you; we just want to go home. We want to make sure you get the help you need.”
At 4:17 a.m., six hours into the standoff, an officer says, “What’s his name again? What’s his first name? Andrew, come out of your apartment with your hands up.”
Sundberg continues speaking on the phone. Then, there’s a sound of shattering windows. What Kelly says next is garbled and difficult to discern: “He is currently [indecipherable] to shoot the officers and he’s breaking up some more of his windows.”
The viewer hears more glass shatter, and a subsequent gunshot at 4:18 a.m. The video does not show who shot the weapon or from where.
Video presents snipers’ dialogue before shooting, but no visuals of Sundberg
The third video comes from Officer Seraphine’s body camera while he is with Officer Aaron Pearson. Police have stated that Seraphine and Pearson are the two snipers who shot Sundberg. They’re positioned on a rooftop across the street where Minneapolis police say they were protecting residents and officers while monitoring Sundberg.
This video footage doesn’t show any view of Sundberg’s apartment. Instead, it shows a blurred officer. Two officers both say, “Gun.” Viewers hear a gunshot. The video shows the blurred-out officer pulling the trigger of his own gun.
The last video comes from the angle of an Officer Calhoun, who is facing the building. We don’t see Sundberg in this video either. Some glass shatters and then we hear two gunshots.
This marks the end of the video camera footage. The text on screen reports that authorities have not identified any video material that offers a clear view of Sundberg at 4:18 a.m. The video asks residents to submit any photos, videos, or audio they have of the incident to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Activists raise concerns about what the police video shows—and leaves out
Toshira Garraway, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, said the body-camera footage release left many questions unanswered.
“What the community is asking for is the footage of exactly when he was shot,” she told Sahan Journal. “It’s hard to believe that there is no footage that can show exactly what happened.”
Even if the snipers saw a gun, she said, it doesn’t adequately explain their decision to kill Sundberg.
“If [Tekle] was not shooting the gun, or pointing the gun, or firing off the gun at the moment that he was shot, the community will consider that an unjustifiable murder,” Garraway said. And even if he was, he was isolated in the building and unable to hurt anyone, she said.
She pointed to repeated examples of white men who carried out mass shootings and hate crimes who were apprehended alive. Yet Black and brown men experiencing mental health crises often do not receive that same consideration, she said.
Garraway emphasized her empathy for the young mother whose apartment Sundberg apparently shot into before police evacuated the building.
“We all have to have more grace and understanding for one another, have more compassion and love for one another, more understanding for one another, no matter what our skin color looks like,” she said.