Robbinsdale Officer-Involved Shooting Sparks Rally, Mixed Opinions Against Deadly Force
On Wednesday, protesters opposed to deadly force in most police incidents gathered along Noble Avenue next to the Pump n’ Munch gas station in Robbinsdale. The rally followed officer-involved shootings in both Minneapolis and Robbinsdale.
Protestors demanded transparency from police in wake of the fatal shooting of Brian Andren in Robbinsdale on Friday.
“They have caused so much harm at this point, families just don’t know what to believe anymore. They don’t have no video, we don’t know what to believe,” said Toshira Garraway, a St. Paul resident with the group Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence.
In the Robbinsdale case, there is both body camera and dashcam video being looked at by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which is conducting an independent investigation.
Suspect Fatally Shot Had Felony Arrest Warrant
The suspect fatally shot, Brian Andren, 47, of Ramsey, had a felony warrant out for his arrest. Police spotted his vehicle at the Pump n’ Munch gas station Friday. Andren fled the scene, which led to a brief police chase.
Eventually, Andren got out of his truck with a knife. Police say officers made several attempts to get Andren to drop the knife with commands and a Taser. However, Andren continue to charge at officers with the knife in an “aggressive manner,” police said. That’s when Sgt. Brian Sloat, a 17-year-year veteran of the Robbinsdale Police Department, discharged his gun and shot the suspect.
Officers attempted lifesaving measures, but Andren died at the scene. Wednesday’s protesters did’t agree with the way police handled the situation.
“Stop killing people. Stop forcing deadly force when unnecessary,” said Garraway. “This man had a little knife, you guys have big guns, a bunch of police had big guns.”
Others Showed Up to Support Police
A few blocks away, standing by the Robbinsdale Police Department building, supporters say they believe police were justified.
“We know they tried using nonlethal force. They used a Taser first and asked him to drop the knife. He was using deadly force at them and unfortunately then he lost his life,” said Jenna Norton, a resident of Robbinsdale.
Norton said there were many private supporters who are thankful for police and their duty to protect.
“It’s really important to us that they know they have support from the community,” said Norton. “That we trust their judgment and value service and sacrifice.”
Police Sergeant Involved in 2013 Incident
The officer who fired the fatal shot was involved in litigation for an incident eight years ago. Sgt. Brian Sloat was accused of excessive force in 2013 when he pulled over a man on a February morning for suspected drunken driving.
The individual turned out to be former Gopher basketball star Melvin Newbern, a Robbinsdale resident at the time. Sloat said Newbern refused to cooperate and get in the squad car. He later admitted to “kneeing” Newbern several times to make the arrest, but maintained he acted in a reasonable manner.
Both sides eventually reached an out-of-court settlement with the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust paying Newbern $185,000. In 2015, Sloat’s attorney, Jason Hiveley, gave a statement to CCX News:
“After a comprehensive analysis, we believe officer Sloat acted in a reasonable manner, but we recognize the cost of defending this case through trial would be very high.”
Sloat eventually returned to work and was later promoted to sergeant.
In the Jan. 8, 2021, shooting, body cameras and squad dash cameras of the incident have not been released pending investigation by the BCA.
CCX News Executive Producer Corey Bork contributed to this report