Minneapolis, MN – The Hennepin county attorney has announced that two Minneapolis police officers who fatally shot a knife-wielding suspect as he charged towards them in November will not face any criminal charges (video below).
Officers Neal Walsh and Ryan Keyes have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting death of 36-year-old Travis Jordan, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said on Thursday, according to the Star Tribune.
“Officers Walsh and Keyes’ use of deadly force was objectively reasonable in the face of the danger of death or great bodily harm and no criminal charges could or should be made,” Freeman said.
Freeman expressed his condolences to the family of 36-year-old Travis Jordan, but noted that the evidence – including bodycam footage of the altercation – showed that Jordan “presented a real danger to the officers.”
“They were justified in using deadly force,” he said.
The incident began at approximately 2 p.m. on Nov. 9, 2018, when Jordan’s girlfriend called police to report he threatened to kill himself during a phone conversation she had with him 15 minutes prior.
Officer Keyes and Officer Walsh responded to Jordan’s home, but no one answered when they knocked at the door, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCI) said in a report, according to the Star Tribune.
Officer Keyes walked towards the back of the home, and was able to spot Jordan standing in the kitchen.
He shined his flashlight at Jordan, who responded with an obscene gesture, according to police.
Jordan’s girlfriend later said that she was on the phone with him at the time, and that he told her he “was going to go down today,” WCCO reported.
The officers tried to communicate with him, but Jordan began hurling expletives at them from inside the home, according to the Star Tribune.
Officer Keyes radioed that Jordan’s speech seemed to be slurred.
Bodycam footage showed the officers as they stood outside Jordan’s home and tried to convince him to come outside.
“Let’s do this! Hurry the f–k up,” Jordan told them, as he gripped a 13-and-one-half inch knife in his hand. “Come on!”
Officer Keyes could see Jordan through a window, and alerted Officer Walsh that he was armed with the blade.
The officers drew their weapons as the suicidal man continued to yell, “Let’s do this!” the video showed.
“Drop the knife, dude,” both officers calmly ordered several times.
“F–k you!” Jordan yelled, just before he threw the front door open.
The officers begged him to drop the knife, but Jordan refused.
“Come on! Let’s do this!” he repeatedly screamed at the officers.
“I do not want to do this,” Officer Walsh said at one point. “Put it down.”
“F–king do it!” Jordan yelled from his porch.
“Nope,” Officer Walsh responded.
Despite their repeated requests, Jordan retained his hold on the weapon and stormed out of the home towards them.
The officers took several steps backwards as the knife-wielding man continued his advance.
As Jordan came within mere feet of Officer Walsh, Officer Keyes fired one round, which struck a nearby tree, WCCO reported.
Officer Walsh then fired eight rounds at Jordan, hitting him three times.
Jordan collapsed to the ground, the video showed.
“I’m sorry,” he told the officers as they handcuffed him and administered first aid.
Jordan was rushed to North Memorial Health Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the Star Tribune reported.
Police later found a note inside the residence, which Jordan had written to the homeowner.
“Paul, I’m so sorry this happened at your house,” the note read.
Jordan’s family blasted the officers for shooting Jordan instead of using Tasers or other less-lethal measures.
“Its obvious systemic change needs to happen in regards to police training,” his cousin, Malia Nzara told the Star Tribune. “He needed help. That’s why we called 911. They shot him and now he’s dead.”
Some members of the city council agreed, and called for changes in how police respond to people in the midst of mental health crisis.
They said the Minneapolis Police Department also needs to expand its mental health co-responder program, which sends counselors with officers to help handle encounters like the one they had with Jordan.
“You have to wonder, was there something else they could have done?” National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota Executive Director Sue Abderholden told WCCO.
“You would hope that a mental health professional could engage someone voluntarily and really talk them down and not have them be suicidal. We know he was suicidal, so are there some other ways to engage someone so that they are not wanting to die,” Abderholden added.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said that more needs to be done to assist those experiencing mental illness, but noted that society has been expecting the police to handle crises that fall far outside their traditional duties.
“It is clear that we as a society are consistently falling short for those with mental health illnesses,” Frey said, according to KSTP. “And it is clear we are asking law enforcement officers to accept responsibilities that go beyond patrolling a beat… to respect the dignity of the officers who responded to the call, we appreciate the difficulty inherent in the work they do in service to city of Minneapolis.”
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said that neither of the officers wanted the situation to turn out the way it did, and praised them for doing the best they could under dangerous and dire circumstances.
“I want to first extend my condolences to Mr. Travis Jordan’s family and friends,” Chief Arradondo said in a statement, according to KSTP. “I also want to acknowledge the impact that this occurrence has had on our two involved officers and their families.”
“These two officers who took an oath to serve their community would never have wanted this outcome to be a part of their duties on that day,” he continued. “During their interaction they displayed professionalism in their communications and actions with Mr. Jordan, including immediately rendering first aid to him.”
The chief noted that the situation is “devastating” for everyone involved, including the officers.
“As Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, I recognize that our men and women are being called upon to respond to many issues within our city that have been a part of our society for generations,” Chief Arradondo added.
“Last year alone, Minneapolis police officers responded to several thousand 911 calls involving community members experiencing a mental health crisis,” he said. “Trauma is real and prevalent on many of the calls MPD officers respond to in the course of their shift.”
You can watch bodycam footage of the officers’ encounter with Jordan in the video below: