Hennepin County Attorney Finds ‘No Evidence’ of Police Wrongdoing in Khalil Azad’s Drowning
The Hennepin County Attorney’s office said it will not charge police in the 2022 death of Khalil Azad.
Hennepin County Attorney Mary Moriarty said the office found no evidence of inappropriate behavior by law enforcement. She also said there was no evidence of physical contact between Azad and law enforcement in his death. This comes after an independent investigation by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).
Investigators combed through hours of footage release by the Robbinsdale Police Department last spring.
Azad was found in Crystal Lake two days after a police chase ended in a crash in Robbinsdale.
Moriarty said that Azad died of “tragic, accidental drowning.”
Meanwhile, according to the report, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s autopsy revealed no self-inflicted injuries or wounds caused by another person on Azad’s body.
“My thoughts are with Khalil Azad’s family and loved ones in this difficult time,” Moriarty said in a release. “Losing someone so young is devastating.”
Moriarty also said that the investigation did not reveal actions by law enforcement beyond searching for Khalil. She said that search involved officers from multiple agencies, K-9s, a State Patrol Helicopter, thermal imaging and passenger questioning.
In July 2022, Robbinsdale officers attempted a traffic stop on a white SUV traveling on County Road 81. The vehicle veered off the road, drove in the wrong direction and eventually crashed into a tree.
The driver ran away. Investigators believe the driver was Azad.
Robbinsdale police released more than five hours of squad and bodycam footage in March. In the footage, officers are shown speaking with two passengers, who both said they did not know the driver.
One officer is heard calling out: “Police K-9, show me your hands, you are under arrest. Give yourself up now, or we will send the dog.”
Officers continued searching, but never come in contact with Azad at any point in the video.
The video’s release was met with protests outside the Robbinsdale Police Department building in March. Family members and advocates expressed doubts about the video.
Today, in December 2023, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office released its decision based on the footage, autopsy, a toxicology investigation and senior attorneys’ review of those findings.
Azad Family Response
Despite those findings, Azad’s family is still claiming foul play.
The family released a statement to CCX Media through Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence.
“Our family disagrees with the conclusion of the Hennepin County Attorneys office that Khalil died solely of an accidental drowning,” the statement began. It went on to express concerns about the state of Azad after he was found, arguing that there were wounds on his body that indicated he’d been beaten.
The statement also expressed concerns that some videos were edited and others are missing from the Crystal Police Department and Minnesota State Patrol.
“Law enforcement was the last to see Khalil alive. Law enforcement had the means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime that no one else did,” the statement said.
The family feels the investigation was not complete and are disappointed with the outcome.
Robbinsdale police also sent out a release on Dec. 4, stating that an internal investigation also cleared its officers of improper conduct.
“Our continued sympathies and condolences go out to the Azad family,” Robbinsdale Police Chief Patrick Foley said in the statement. :As seen on the body worn cameras, everyone involved in the incident was treated respectfully and compassionately by our officers in the Robbinsdale Police Department. This is the expectation of our staff.”
In the family’s statement, they vowed to “continue not just for Khalil but for all of Minnesota.”