Local residents and civil rights advocates are demanding answers and transparency after the fatal shooting by police of Dolal Idd at the Holiday gas station at 36th St. and Cedar Ave. on Dec. 30, 2020. Several protests have taken place since, including one drawing 1,000 people who marched in the streets calling for justice.
The shooting occurred when officers were attempting to purchase a gun from Idd as part of a weapons investigation, according to a statement released by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Police vehicles had surrounded Idd at the Holiday property when shots were fired. The Minneapolis Police Department released body camera footage the next day which they allege shows Idd firing a gun first.
For community advocates, the initial police reports and video leave too many questions unanswered.
“From what we’ve learned now, this entire incident could have been handled differently,” said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Minnesota. “For this type of an operation to happen in this kind of a place is extremely scary.”
The Holiday station is one of the busiest gas stations in the area that is also situated in a heavily residential neighborhood. That it was a “controlled buy,” as opposed to officers apprehending somebody in the midst committing a violent crime, suggests the location could have been better controlled as well.
“This type of behavior, if it continues in other situations, could actually be much, much more tragic to the neighbors that are nearby if law enforcement are this careless and disregarding of community safety,” said Hussein.
The choice to release just one abbreviated video is also seen as problematic. According to the BCA, video of the incident was captured on body cameras and dash cameras. If when someone is picked up for a crime they get a mug shot for all to see whether they’re guilty or not, Hussein reasoned, the same should be true when police are involved.
“Why is it that the evidence when law enforcement obviously shoot and kill is kept with a great deal of secrecy and disregard for transparency,” asked Hussein. “Government has a duty to be transparent, especially in situations where there is question into the conduct of their behavior.”
Transparency is not just for the family, it ensures the community doesn’t create their own scenarios, and media outlets don’t run with a false narrative. Hussein said the particular video used in this case appears to create prejudice. It begins with the officer yelling “Stop, Stop,” then shots are fired. There’s no way to know if the person in the car heard the command or even what they were doing, and the viewer doesn’t see what happened beforehand, the context. Yet a perception of noncompliance is now planted.
“I feel like they chose the camera to capture what they wanted us to see, not what was available for us to see,” he said.
The incident was also based on a confidential informant, which raises questions as to their incentive for making allegations or whether they have any merit. In fact, several hours after Idd was killed, a nighttime raid conducted by Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) deputies at Idd’s parents’ home in Eden Prairie turned up no evidence.
The HCSO released extensive body camera footage from this incident, though, which shows family members terrified, crying and calling for their kids as they are surrounded by armed officers in their living room in the middle of the night. Handcuffs were used, despite no one in the household showing any hostility toward the police or any refusal to follow commands. That Sheriff David Hutchinson praised his deputies in a HCSO media release “for their professionalism” also causes concern.
“Law enforcement behaved in such a terrorizing way that they believe that that action is in line with what they’re supposed to do,” said Hussein. “They’re tone deaf to actually seeing it from the perspective of the community.”
Also at issue is the cultural insensitivity demonstrated in releasing the video as it was. Idd and his family are from Somalia, where, as Hussein describes, “our families love their privacy.” Showing the video publicly, with only faces blurred and with the father wearing a macawiis (a sarong-like wrap) – essentially his pajamas so he's not fully clothed – violated this. To most White officers, seeing someone partially dressed may not seem a big deal; it’s what you wear to the beach, explained Hussein. “In Somalia, that’s not how you go to the beach.
“The sensitivity was lost there, and I think that’s the problem,” said Hussein. “Brutality by police is not seen by police. It’s only seen by the community. And then the trauma and anxiety levels… [are] felt by the communities impacted the most.”
CAIR-MN and other civil rights organizations and leaders have proposed legislation that, among other measures, would ensure police footage is made available within 48 hours and which would establish an independent agency to investigate and prosecute critical incidents involving the police.