By AMY FORLITI
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Five Minnesota police officers were legally justified in using deadly force when they fatally shot a 23-year-old Somali-American man who raised his gun and fired as authorities were trying to end an hours-long standoff in suburban St. Paul, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Isak Abdirahman Aden was killed July 2 after a standoff in Eagan in which he at times held a gun to his head and refused orders to move away from it. According to a report released Wednesday, Aden was shot after authorities say he picked up the gun, raised his arm and fired as officers initiated a plan to take him into custody.
Eagan Officer Jacob Peterson, and Bloomington Officers Matthew Ryan, Anthony Kiehl, Adam Stier and Daniel Nelson all fired their weapons. According to the report, the five officers were assigned to provide lethal cover for their colleagues during the standoff.
Aden, who had THC in his system, was shot 11 times.
“They all believed at the time they fired their service weapons that Aden posed a risk to the lives of the other officers at the scene,” the report said. Authorities have released squad camera video that captured the moments of the shooting, but blurred out the shooting itself, and while Aden moves and appears to be reaching for something, viewers cannot see whether he raised his arm.
Activists sent out a statement Wednesday demanding the release of unedited police video.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said that even though he concluded the officers acted reasonably, “any loss of life is a tragic occurrence, and I wish to express my sympathy to the family and friends of Isak Aden, whose life was lost in this incident.”
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he hadn’t seen the investigative evidence but that he was disappointed in Backstrom’s decision.
According to information released by Backstrom, Aden’s ex-girlfriend called police at about 6 p.m. on July 2 to say he had pulled a gun on her and told her to drive away from her home. She later said she wasn’t threatened but was afraid when she saw the gun. She told police that when she neared a commercial area, she purposely drove into oncoming traffic to create a scene, and Aden ran away.
Aden eventually sat down on a curb in a parking lot and held the gun to his head. Police set up a perimeter that included SWAT officers, snipers and armored vehicles, and they delivered a phone to Aden so they could talk to him. Over the next few hours, Aden put the gun down but refused to move away from it, and he demanded that his ex-girlfriend be brought to the scene. He also called her multiple times and received texts from his brother, who was trying to persuade him to surrender.
While talking to police, Aden said he and his ex-girlfriend had been arguing and that when she saw his gun she began screaming that he was going to shoot her. He said he wanted her to come to the scene and tell police the truth. He also said he was unwilling to go to jail and that was the one thing officers had to “truly understand.”
Police came up with a plan to distract Aden with a phone call and use flash bangs and less lethal weapons to arrest him, in hopes that he would surrender. Authorities put that plan into action at about 10:30 p.m., when Aden was about 18 inches (45 centimeters) away from the gun.
“Unfortunately, Aden did not surrender and instead got up from a seated position, lunged for the gun near him, picked it up and began to raise his right hand with the gun in it,” the report said. “It was later determined Aden fired the gun after he picked it up.”