On Tuesday, Sept. 24, Saint Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell released body worn camera video from an officer-involved shooting that occurred on Sunday, Sept. 15.
The shooting occurred after a vehicle rear-ended a Saint Paul police squad that was stopped at the intersection of Thomas Avenue West and North Griggs Street. After the officer got out of his squad, the driver of the striking vehicle initiated a physical confrontation and a fight ensued. During the course of the fight, the officer discharged his service weapon, striking the adult male who had confronted him. St. Paul Fire medics were immediately summoned, but their lifesaving efforts were unsuccessful and the man died at the scene. The officer was not injured.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is currently investigating the shooting.
The video and Axtell's remarks are posted below.
PLEASE NOTE: THE VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC LANGUAGE AND CONTENT
Chief Todd Axtell's remarks:
"Good Afternoon. Thank you for being here today.
For more than 30 years, I’ve built my career on a foundation of trust, truth and transparency. That’s not to say that I, or any member of our department, is perfect. When we make mistakes, the Saint Paul Police Department has a proven record of taking responsibility. However, this is not one of those times.
And while I recognize the trauma that has been caused by a history of policing practices, throughout our country, that have disproportionately affected communities of color, I also cannot stand by—I simply can’t sleep at night—knowing that a good officer, and all of our officers, are being assailed by people who don’t have the facts.
This video is difficult to watch, and my heart goes out to the family of Mr. Davis. I deeply understand that anytime a loved one is lost, it’s tragic—regardless of circumstance. The only solace I can take from this incident is that Officer Mattson was not seriously injured or killed. But I do know that his life will never be the same.
I remain hopeful that quickly releasing this video will allow us to move forward with mature discourse about how such tragedies can be prevented in the future—without having to wade through the waters of irresponsible accusations of murder, calculated cries of injustice, and threats made against an officer who had no choice but to defend himself against an immediate and violent attack.
Officer-involved shootings are serious and must be dissected and analyzed so that we can understand and address their causes. Continuing to swim in a sea of lies and distorted facts will only keep us caught in the undertow of distrust.
Wearing a badge does not automatically make you wrong any more than standing in the street with a megaphone automatically makes you right.
I look forward to continuing to move forward together, in good faith, to achieve the outcomes we all desire."