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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Body cam video shows suspect firing gun, St. Paul police say

When a St. Paul police sergeant noticed the guy they were looking for, he radioed, “He’s got the pistol in his right hand,” according to a body camera video published Thursday.

Sgt. Cody Blanshan, racing forward in his patrol cruiser, added, “He’s aiming it at a car he’s attempting to carjack right now.”

According to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is conducting the investigation, Blanshan allegedly ran over Howard Johnson with his squad vehicle. The footage indicates that Blanshan opened his squad door and a succession of gunfire rang out.

Johnson, 24, died at Regions Hospital. Blanshan was not wounded.

On Thursday, police stated that footage from Blanshan’s body camera showed the sergeant and Johnson exchanging bullets. According to the BCA, its agents are currently looking through video to determine who opened fire.

Johnson’s loved ones and neighbors have demanded that the police and mayor release the tapes as soon as possible.

Johnson’s mother, Monique Johnson, said Thursday that she wasn’t happy with the truncated recordings they were shown at police headquarters before the agency publicly published the tape.

“The films that we’ve seen do not capture the complete picture,” she said to KMSP-TV. “There’s no way that it conveys the complete story.”

At the same time, Blanshan’s lawyer insisted that the sergeant’s “use of fatal force was justifiable.”

The client “believed he was going to be murdered, and he was,” his lawyer Paul Engh said in a statement on Thursday. As his statement to the BCA shows, “he has presented a full account.”

Stepfather Kenneth Manning told KMSP-TV that they are grateful for the information released by authorities, but that they “we want all of the information that is accessible, we want all of the films.”

“We are very glad that none of our officers or innocent civilians were murdered because of the heroic reaction of Sgt. Blanshan,” Mark Ross, president of the St. Paul Police Federation, stated after seeing the footage posted by the police department.

No cop ever wants to be in a situation where they have to kill someone, but Ross said on Twitter that it happens all the time. “It was not just justified… it was brave and unselfish to deliberately take on a suspect like that with a pistol at close range.”

Thursday was the first time that Mayor Melvin Carter and Police Chief Axel Henry had addressed the public about the incident. After the police department disseminated the video, they convened a press conference.

Carter observed, “Trust cannot be established in the dark.” That’s why it’s crucial to share the video from police body cameras as quickly as possible. We have always felt that the public should be able to see the film as soon as possible once the first witness accounts have been gathered.

Both Carter and Henry have reported speaking with Johnson’s family, and Henry has even met with them briefly when they came in to see the video.

“There aren’t words to assuage” the Johnson family’s suffering, Henry said, adding that “any loss of life is awful.”

The publication of the films, he added, “should assist begin answering some of their queries.” The events of Monday evening have had a profound impact on everyone in our town, especially our police officers.

On Monday, a lady contacted 911 to tell that her husband had just struck her in front of their kids. She said it occurred near Dayton’s Bluff area, specifically at the intersection of Earl Street and Hudson Road.

According to her, his name was Howard Johnson, and he was armed. She also supplied his date of birth and indicated he had a warrant, the transcript indicates.

The lady responded, “He’s coming near to me” and then the conversation cut off, the transcript claimed.

Johnson’s warrant was issued in September for not appearing at a hearing in a felony domestic abuse case he was accused in, according to court records, which list seven prior domestic violence-related convictions.

The police arrived shortly after 6 o’clock. Monday regarding the purported domestic assault. Cops have formed a protective cordon around the location.

The BCA said that “meanwhile, a lady at a business on Hudson Road exited the shop and entered her vehicle” on Wednesday. She was not the lady who was the victim of the alleged domestic abuse. She reportedly told BCA officers that Johnson followed her to her car and pointed a pistol at her as she drove away.

The BCA claims that Blanshan, who was driving a squad, hit Johnson in the back and side, sending him tumbling to the ground. When Johnson stood up, it looked like he and Blanshan had fired shots at each other. The BCA said that Johnson was shot, collapsed to the ground, and abandoned his weapon.

Someone can be heard shouting, “Don’t do it!” when Blanshan opens the door to his squad in the footage.

One gunshot can be heard on dashcam video from a different squad that was also released by the police department on Thursday. A moment of silence is followed by a barrage of gunfire.

A.45-caliber handgun and three spent round casings were discovered by the BCA. Ten 9mm round casings were also discovered, which is consistent with Blanshan using a department-issued weapon.

The police agency claims a muzzle flare and a fallen pistol from Johnson’s sidearm are apparent in the body cam clip.

As of Thursday afternoon, the BCA had obtained statements from both Blanshan and the second officer in the patrol vehicle that collided with Johnson.

Johnson has twin sons, both of whom were four years old. Brother Keith Johnson, 27 years old, described Howard as “a people guy” on Wednesday. He could make anybody happy.

It’s not fair that he hasn’t been given more. “… Tell us what you know,” he pleaded.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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