The first police shooting in Minneapolis since the death of George Floyd hinged on allegations from an informant — which apparently didn’t pan out. That doesn’t change the dynamics of the shooting itself, but the additional context might make for tougher political sledding in the Twin Cities. The follow-up by police will certainly open the force up to some criticism:
Minneapolis police were attempting a gun sting when they shot and killed Dolal Idd last week outside a South Side gas station last week, according to new court filings.
The shooting occured Wednesday night, after police set up a gun buy using a confidential informant, “from a person selling firearms illegally and prohibited from possessing firearms,” according to a search warrant affidavit filed Monday. The warrant led officers to a 2:30 a.m. search of an Eden Prairie home where Idd lived with his parents and siblings, leading to criticism by the family and activists of how they were treated and the subsequent release of body camera video of the search by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office. The warrant sought guns, bookeeping materials, videos and photos related to firearms possession. Nothing was recovered.
That may prove embarrassing. Their snitch apparently either passed along false information, or perhaps just outdated info. However, the incident itself still appears to speak for itself, and it also appears that Idd was attempting to conduct business with an undercover officer:
The sworn affidavit filed by state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agent Brandon Johnson says that Idd — identified in the warrant as the suspected seller — showed up at the meetup spot, but when officers moved in to arrest him, a “gunfight ensued.”
It says that members of the 1st Precinct community response team had arranged to buy a mac-10 semiautomatic pistol with the informant acting as a potential buyer at a Holiday gas station at 36th Street and Cedar Avenue. The informant told officers that the alleged seller had more guns at his home, the warrant says.
They found a pistol in the car, but the Star Tribune’s report doesn’t specify that it matched the description of a MAC-10. The MAC-10 has a distinctive look, and the description in the police report of a “silver and black handgun” doesn’t quite do justice to the MAC-10.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office had taken over the case, at least temporarily, per the new protocols adopted after the George Floyd riots. They released video of the warrant search on Saturday, with some privacy redactions. The frightened family members, who had banished Idd from their house at one point in 2018, are trying to cooperate by alerting police to locations of various family members in the house. However, they didn’t inform the family at that time that Idd had been killed in the shootout with police.
The HCSO released the video after the family complained publicly about “excessive force”:
The video shows a swarm of officers, several with guns drawn, conducting a “knock and announce” search at the home of Idd’s parents shortly after 2 a.m. Thursday. The search followed Idd’s death Wednesday evening outside a Holiday gas station in south Minneapolis. …
The family did not know about Idd’s death before the encounter, and repeatedly asks the deputies why they are there. The officer guarding them tells them only that investigators will talk to them later.
One family member does ask in the video if Idd was the person shot at the gas station, so they were clearly aware of the possibility. It’s unclear whether this group of officers knew fully what had happened, but they only answered that investigators would explain the situation later.
Watch the video to get the tenor of proceedings. The police had to execute a search warrant for someone suspected of arms trafficking, which is why they conducted it as a “high risk” entry. Other than the loud announcements, there doesn’t appear to be anything abusive about the police intrusion; the family also seems pretty cooperative throughout, although they certainly are angry and unhappy about the search. And in all fairness … who wouldn’t be?
That doesn’t mean the police acted “inappropriately,” however:
The family and others, including state Sen.-elect Omar Fateh, allege that the search crossed the line and was inappropriate; the Sheriff’s Office said the court-ordered search warrant was deemed “high risk” and that officers acted appropriately.
Sheriff David Hutchinson said Saturday that he was releasing the video to “clarify” what happened, saying there had been allegations that the deputies acted “inappropriately, inhumanely, and with excessive force.”
The camera video “tells a different story,” he said in a news release announcing the release of the video. In it, he said he “praised his Deputies for their professionalism.”
For the second time in this case, it appears that the bodycam footage has vindicated the police response. The first video shows Idd shooting first through his driver-side window before police responded by returning fire. Even if the informant was wrong about the illegal weapons sale, all Idd had to do would be to comply with police orders. The presence of firearms in the vehicle is likely why Idd thought he had no choice but to shoot his way out of the situation, which isn’t the fault of police. The search may have come up empty, and that could raise a few questions about the overall operation, but the warrant was still valid and it was executed with professionalism and as much courtesy as possible under the circumstances.
According to today’s Strib report, the review of the case will get handled by Dakota County prosecutors, again part of the post-Floyd protocols designed to increase oversight over the Minneapolis PD. From everything we’ve seen thus far, don’t expect it to go much farther.