The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (HCAO) announced it has found no evidence to support the claims of inappropriate behavior by law enforcement in the death of Khalil Ahmad Azad last year in Robbinsdale and will not be filing any charges against any officers.
Twenty-four-year-old Azad died on July 5, 2022, in a freshwater drowning in Crystal Lake in the city of Robbinsdale, Minn., according to the medical examiner’s report. Azad was found in the lake two days after he fled from police after crashing the vehicle he was driving.
Months later, Azad’s family and activist groups began circulating graphic autopsy photos of Azad’s partially decomposed body and spinning conspiracy theories that police had beaten Azad, let a police K9 maul him, and left him for dead. The groups also suggested that the medical examiner participated in the conspiracy by not being truthful about the cause of Azad’s death.
Robbinsdale police responded with press releases to try to quell the rumors, but groups like Black Lives Matter continued to push the false narrative through press conferences and social media posts.
The false accusation was even promulgated by a north Minneapolis Patrick Henry High School teacher. Kaytie Kamphoff, who is a special education teacher at Patrick Henry, retweeted another X/Twitter user who claimed that Robbinsdale police “pulled a modern day emmett till on khalil azad [sic].” Kamphoff prefaced her retweet by saying, “How can we ask our children to find Black joy when their fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, neighbors and elders are being murdered & brutalized by police?”
Robbinsdale police eventually released bodycam and squad videos from the crash, traffic stop, and subsequent search for Azad in the swampy lake area. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) even took up a special investigation into the incident at the request of the Robbinsdale Police Department following the false rumors. The BCA provided the results of their investigation to the HCAO for a charging decision.
From the HCAO statement on the charging decision:
“‘My thoughts are with Khalil Azad’s family and loved ones in this difficult time,’ Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said. ‘Losing someone so young is devastating. Although this is not the result they hoped for, our victim support team remains available to help them through this extremely difficult time.’
In all cases, the office must determine whether criminal activity occurred that a prosecutor could prove beyond a reasonable doubt. Based on the evidence uncovered in the BCA’s investigation, Azad died by tragic accidental drowning in Crystal Lake.
‘The BCA uncovered no evidence that any member of law enforcement had any physical contact with Khalil after the initial traffic stop,’ Moriarty said. ‘The investigation also did not reveal evidence that any member of law enforcement did anything other than seek in earnest to locate Khalil, utilizing multiple officers from multiple agencies, multiple K9s, a State Patrol helicopter, and thermal imaging, and trying to acquire information from the two others who had been in the same vehicle.’
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy and a full toxicology examination. The report provides a detailed account of the condition of Azad’s body and indicated no finding that any apparent injuries or Azad’s death were either self-inflicted or caused by another person. The manner of death was ruled an accident, while the cause of death was identified as freshwater drowning.
The County Attorney’s Office review was conducted by senior attorneys in the office, who then made a recommendation to decline charges. County Attorney Moriarty agreed with the recommendation and made the final decision. Moriarty shared this conclusion today with the relevant law enforcement agencies and in a private meeting with Azad’s family.”
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Minnesota Crime Watch & Information publishes news, info and commentary about crime, public safety and livability issues in Minneapolis, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota.