St. Paul Police Officer Steven Mattson shot Ronald Davis, 31, during a confrontation that lasted less than a minute after Davis rear-ended his squad car. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and St. Paul Police have said both men exited their vehicles and Davis confronted the officer, ignoring commands to drop the weapon until Mattson ultimately fired his gun, killing Davis.
In the video, officer Steven Mattson appears to backpedal as Davis appears to go after him, with Mattson at one point apparently falling down. He yells for Davis to get away and put down the knife; then he fires. Davis falls and the officer calls for medical attention.
At a press conference Tuesday, St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtel said he could not stand by “knowing that a good officer, and all of our officers, are being assailed by people who don’t have the facts.” He said “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.”
In the video, as Mattson got out, the footage showed Davis running into view. Mattson can be heard shouting, “Whoa! Whoa!” and “Get away from me! Drop the knife!” The officer appears to fall to the ground before quickly getting up again. In the encounter that lasts less than 30 seconds, at least two shots can be heard.
The Anti-Police Brutality Coalition said in a statement that the release of video was insufficient, and it wasn’t clear whether Mattson could have used de-escalation tactics or nonlethal force.
The video’s release came two days after protesters marched from the St. Paul Police Department Western District headquarters to the site of Davis’ death. In the past, video evidence of fatal shooting by police officers has usually been released only after an investigation has concluded and prosecutors have decided whether to file charges against involved officers.
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Original Police Post
Chief Axtell releases body worn camera video of officer-involved shooting
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
Officer Steven Mattson shot Ronald Davis who charged at him with knife https://t.co/ayARER2J0N
— HYGO News (@HygoNews) September 25, 2019
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.”