Family of a man killed by Mpls. police demand more details, body camera video broadcast

The parents of Andrew Tekle Sundberg, 20, say they are still awaiting a detailed account from police, but it appears their son suffered a mental health crisis in the hours before two snipers of the Minneapolis police who shot him early Thursday.

Speaking publicly on Friday for the first time since the fatal encounter, Mark and Cindy Sundberg, who were called to the scene during the six-hour standoff with police, said their family and friends were “beyond shocked and in mourning” by the news of the death of their son. .

“Like millions of people in America and around the world, Tekle has struggled with mental health issues,” the Sundbergs said in a statement. “We send our deepest condolences to anyone in his building affected by his crisis, and we thank the members of the community who have come forward in memory of Tekle.”

In an accompanying statement, civil rights attorneys Ben Crump and Jeff Storms said the Sundbergs were “very limited” in their ability to communicate with their son.

The lawyers, whom the family retained as legal advisers, said Sundberg’s parents were “not authorized to do all they could to save their son’s life” and dismissed reports that police worked closely with them.

Crump and Storms accused the police department of providing a vague explanation for the decision to shoot Sundberg after the prolonged standoff.

“No information was provided as to why Tekle, whom officers had isolated for hours, suddenly had to be executed,” they said.

“We call on the Minneapolis Police Department to immediately provide the family with video evidence and other information needed to answer this question.”

Police said they attended the apartment on the 900 block of 21st Ave S. late Wednesday after a neighbor called 911 to report a shot was fired in their unit, where she lived with two young children.

Police reported more gunshots as officers entered the building.

“Officers saw debris exploding from the walls as shots were fired,” according to a police report. “Officers called for backup and worked to rescue the mother and her children from the building in this active shooter situation. Officers also worked to get others believed to be in danger to safety.”

According to search warrant affidavits filed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in Hennepin County District Court on Friday, officers in the hallway near Sundberg’s apartment “started to catch fire” as they were evacuating other tenants.

“Minneapolis police officers exited the building and instructed the Minneapolis SWAT team to respond,” the affidavits state. At around 4:30 a.m., two police snipers fired from the roof of a building across the street, according to the affidavits.

The BCA, which is leading the investigation, did not say whether one or both officers – Aaron Pearson and Zachary Seraphine – fatally injured Sundberg.

BCA investigators recovered a .38 caliber handgun with a magazine lying on a bed and live .45 caliber cartridges in a closet and in a bowl in the living room of Sundberg’s third floor apartment, according to the affidavits.

At least seven spent bullets were recovered during the search of a separate unit on the same floor as Sundberg’s.

The documents also listed numerous “less lethal” rounds found inside and outside the building. When the BCA recovered the snipers’ rifles, their magazines still contained cartridges, according to the affidavits.

Officers at the scene activated their body cameras, according to a police report, but authorities have not released the video.

Mental health professionals from Minneapolis’ rented Behavioral Crisis Response Team were not dispatched to the call because it involved a deadly weapon, city officials confirmed. The pilot program, launched in December, sends civilians to defuse non-violent mental health situations traditionally handled by the police.

“They don’t respond to calls with firearms,” ​​police spokesman Garrett Parten said. “It’s against their protocol.”

Crump is a top attorney who has represented the families of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor and other black people killed by police in recent years. He often secured multi-million dollar settlements for police brutality and earned the nickname “Black America’s Attorney General.”

Alongside the locally-based Storms, Crump has worked on behalf of the Minnesota-based families of Amir Locke and Daunte Wright — both killed by Twin Cities police officers — and has been outspoken on issues of police accountability.

In their statement, Sundberg’s parents said their son was “deeply loved.”

“Tekle was a son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew and friend,” they said. “From the moment he fixed a stapler for his kindergarten teacher, we knew Tekle could fix anything – furniture, snow blowers and his grandfather’s riding lawn mower.

“He had the strength and courage to challenge bullies and stand up for the most vulnerable, but he also had the innate sensitivity to be able to love everyone and everything from plants to his beloved cat, Cali.”

A 2015 online fundraising campaign, launched on behalf of the Sundbergs when Tekle, then 13, was injured in an ATV accident, mentioned how the family “opened their hearts to children in need of ‘a loving home (three biological children and six who returned home after birth) – which they provided.’” Tekle was born in Ethiopia, he said.

The Sundbergs, a family of nine, have been members of Park Avenue United Methodist Church in south Minneapolis for decades, a place of worship whose members include many racially mixed families and whose mission is the pursuit of racial reconciliation.

As a youth, Tekle skated for the DinoMights, a church-based hockey program. “Tekle Sundberg’s life was taken too soon by MPD,” the organization said on Facebook. “Words cannot describe our sadness and anger for the Sundberg family.”

Sundberg’s death was the second fatal encounter involving Minneapolis police this year: Amir Locke was shot in a predawn apartment raid on February 2. Pearson, an eight-year veteran of the force, was part of the SWAT team that shot Locke; Seraphine, a team doctor, was called to provide assistance to the scene, according to BCA records.

Minneapolis police have come under intense scrutiny for fatal encounters with the public since then-officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in 2020.

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