Bodycam video shows moment police rescue mom, kids during 6-hour standoff

"My kids are right there!" a woman shouts. Two toddlers emerge from behind an apartment door, one wearing a diaper, and the officers help them down a stairwell


By Andy Mannix and Liz Sawyer
Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS — Police body camera footage released Wednesday shows a chaotic scene in which Minneapolis officers rescue a mother and her two young children as Andrew Tekle Sundberg fires a gun repeatedly from inside his apartment last week, but the video fails to show clearly the final moment, about six hours later, that precipitated two SWAT snipers fatally shooting the 20-year-old amid failed negotiations for his surrender.

City officials released four separate videos of the incident totaling 15 minutes, showing the beginning and end of the overnight standoff outside an apartment building in south Minneapolis. The footage, which confirms much of the police version of events over the past week, shows officer Nicholas Kapinos arriving at Sundberg's apartment building at around 11:30 p.m., shortly after neighbor Arabella Foss-Yarbrough called 911 to report bullets had entered her apartment through her kitchen wall.

Kapinos announces himself and knocks on a metal door to the apartment hallway. Gunshots can be heard, and the video shows multiple slugs mushroom into the door from the other side.

"Shots fired. Shots fired in the north stairwell," Kapinos shouts. "I'm not hit, but they're shooting through the door. Three (expletive) bullets."

Kapinos and other officers briefly retreat. Then Foss-Yarbrough appears frantically in the doorway.

"Hands!" the officers shout. "Show me your (expletive) hands!"

Minneapolis police released body cam footage of moments at the beginning and end of a six-hour standoff with Andrew Tekle Sundberg which ended in Sundberg's death.

The officers usher Foss-Yarbrough out with guns drawn. Holding the door open, they see where three bullet holes hit the interior side.

"My kids are right there!" Foss-Yarbrough shouts. Two toddlers emerge from behind an apartment door, one wearing a diaper, and the officers help them down the stairwell.

"Mommy's here," Foss-Yarbrough tells them.

Another video, taken after 4 a.m., shows police attempting to convince Sundberg to exit the building. Sundberg leans out the window and speaks incomprehensibly, appearing to ignore them while he appears to talk on his cellphone.

"We don't want to hurt you," Sgt. Shawn Kelly shouts up to him. "We just want to go home. We want to make sure you get the help you need. C'mon out."

Two other videos show the point of view of SWAT snipers Aaron Pearson and Zachary Seraphine. The sound of glass breaking can be heard off camera. "He's threatening to shoot the officers and he's breaking out apartment windows," says a voice over the radio.

One of the snipers describes Sundberg holding a cell phone, and then "waving something around in there."

"Gun," both snipers announce simultaneously. They shoot twice.

Police rushed into the building and began to render medical aid about a minute later, according to an incident report. Sundberg died later at HCMC.

"This is not an outcome that anyone wanted," said Mayor Jacob Frey in a news conference Wednesday before showing the video. "My deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr. Sundberg."

The 15 minutes of video represents only a fraction of the total body-camera footage from dozens of officers on the scene for six hours. But it marks the first objective view of critical moments of the standoff released to public so far. As agents from the Bureau of Criminal Activity investigate the incident — standard protocol for all police shootings — the body-camera footage and other records are classified as private data under Minnesota law.

Frey said the city decided to release the video segment voluntarily and without narration "to be transparent, pure and simple." He said her and other city officials wouldn't comment on specifics on the video as the investigation continues.

Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman, who also offered her condolences to Sundberg's family, said she was thankful the police officers were able to help Foss-Yarbrough and her kids escape without anyone being seriously injured. "While we cannot comment on the ongoing investigation or the outcome, there were a lot of people who did great work in this incident," she said, thanking the officers who "demonstrated bravery under fire."

Responding to questions from reporters, Frey said he couldn't comment on what caused officers to shoot after the long standoff, citing the ongoing BCA investigation.

"We have not identified the video that shows the clearest images of what happened at that time," said Minneapolis police spokesman Howie Padilla. He said a spotlight being used on scene whitewashed some of the footage.

Padilla called on bystanders who recorded the scene to turn over their video to the BCA. "We want a full and thorough investigation just like everybody else," he said.

Sundberg's parents said last week they believed their son was in the throes of a mental health crisis. News of police killing him prompted protests from civil rights groups last weekend. Coming in the aftermath of police killing George Floyd, many expressed doubt over the police version of events, and some questioned why officers couldn't have taken Sundberg alive.

"Tekle's parents continue to send their deepest sympathies to all of those impacted by Tekle's mental health crisis," said Jeff Storms, one of the lawyers representing the Sundberg family. "We all recognize what a harrowing experience this was for many. His parents join in the government's request for bystanders with video evidence to come forward and provide that video to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension so that everyone can work towards bringing closure to this investigation."

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McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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