Following recent allegations that officers from the Robbinsdale Police Department beat a man to death during an attempted traffic stop, allowed a police K9 to maul him, and then covered it up, the police department has released body camera footage from the July incident and requested an independent review from the BCA.
The conspiracy theory being circulated also includes allegations that the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office wasn’t truthful in its finding that Khalil Ahmad Azad, 24, died from an accidental drowning in Crystal Lake where he was found on July 5, two days after he fled from police after crashing the vehicle he was driving.
Social media posts with graphic autopsy photos of Azad began surfacing in late February along with posts that insisted Robbinsdale police beat and killed Azad.
Parts of the medical examiner’s report attached in some of the social media posts stated that Azad was found face down in the water with very little of his body visible above the surface. The report said Azad’s face was bloated and discolored with areas of blistered and peeling skin on his face, as well as more areas of blistered skin on his back. The report noted that no areas of obvious trauma or injuries were observed. Another part of the report stated that “no life-threatening injuries or natural disease” were found and listed the death as a freshwater drowning.
Black Lives Matter Minnesota and Azad’s family held a press conference at the Hennepin County Government Center on Feb. 27 during which they maintained that the autopsy’s conclusions didn’t match the condition shown in the photos, which they said showed “severe trauma” to his face and body.
Social media posts pushing the narrative that Azad was killed by police began to pick up steam following the press conference.
Among those lending support to the theory that police killed Azad is Minneapolis public school teacher Kaytie Kamphoff, who retweeted another Twitter user on March 2 claiming that Robbinsdale police “pulled a modern day emmett till on khalil azad [sic].”
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?
“The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody” https://t.co/jEkRpwD6KV
— Ms. K tweets (@whatMsKsaid) March 3, 2023
Kamphoff, who is an English teacher at Patrick Henry High School in north Minneapolis, prefaced the 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?”, tacitly implying or agreeing that Azad was, in effect, lynched by Robbinsdale police.
Kamphoff, who describes herself on her Twitter profile as an “abolitionist,” has also been a key figure in the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers Local 59’s (MFT59) opposition to the Minneapolis Police Department’s “PEACE Recruitment Plan.” The plan, which was approved by the Minneapolis City Council in December, granted a one-time $740,000 award designed to cover paid internships for high school students from different upbringings who are interested in a career in law enforcement. The plan was established by MPD in response to community demand that police officers be connected to the communities they serve. Kamphoff was reported to be a co-author of MFT59’s formal resolution issued in December in opposition to the recruitment program.
Release of videos, BCA investigating
In response to the mounting accusations, Robbinsdale police have issued a series of statements over the last few days that included the timeline of events in the early morning hours of July 3, 2022, during the attempted traffic stop and subsequent perimeter search for Azad. According to the timeline, the search lasted around an hour and involved several other agencies, including the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, State Patrol Flight Division, and neighboring police agencies. They stated that no suspect was found at that time.
The statements also noted that police were dispatched on a report of a body in the water of Crystal Lake on July 5 at which time they found Azad deceased.
Robbinsdale police also requested the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) to conduct an independent review of the case, which the BCA agreed to do. The results of that review have not yet been revealed.
Earlier this week the Robbinsdale Police Department also posted links to several videos from police body and squad cameras from the time of the initial traffic stop and subsequent search. One video shows the vehicle Azad was allegedly driving traveling at a high rate of speed in front of a squad, driving into opposing lanes of traffic, and then crashing after appearing to jump a curb.
The videos also show the aftermath of the initial stop, conversations with two passengers who remained in the vehicle, and part of the search through the woods adjacent to the lake where Azad was eventually found deceased two days later.
Since the release of the videos, activists have continued to insist that the police department and the medical examiner are covering up evidence. They are also demanding that other agencies involved in the July 3 search make their body and squad camera videos available.
There is no word on when the BCA will complete their review of the incident.