Authorities remained tight-lipped Tuesday about the circumstances around the fatal shooting of a Richfield man involved in a police chase over the weekend, refusing to name the five officers involved and divulging no new details about the encounter.
But Richfield Lt. Brad Drayna confirmed that Saturday’s shooting of Brian J. Quinones, 30, who was allegedly armed with a knife, was captured on three of his department’s squad-car dash cameras and that the footage would be released “in the near future.” Edina officials said four of the city’s squad-car cameras captured parts of the incident.
Edina also is looking into releasing its police videos before the case is resolved, which occurs either after a decision is made not to charge the officers involved or in a court proceeding should they face charges.
Most videos of officer-involved shootings have been withheld from the public in Minnesota until the cases were resolved. Pressure from activists and community leaders, as well as changing trends across the country, has prompted local authorities in recent years to release them earlier.
Drayna could not provide a timeline for the videos’ release, saying that Richfield authorities will have to consult with Edina police and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the shooting.
“We assumed Hennepin County would release [the videos] or at a minimum, tell us when we can release it,” said Edina city spokeswoman Jennifer Bennerotte. “They told us they are reviewing it internally to see if we can release it before the investigation is complete.”
There is no body-camera footage of the incident because Edina does not use the technology and Richfield is testing it in limited numbers; none of the cameras were at the scene.
The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment on the circumstances of the shooting, withholding the names of the officers involved. Investigators also have not said whether a weapon was recovered at the scene or whether anyone called police about Quinones after he began livestreaming the incident on Facebook.
Quinones’ video captured him fleeing a police chase that preceded the shooting; it captured audio and obscured visuals of his encounter with police but not images of the shooting itself.
The police silence follows a Sunday night candlelight vigil for Quinones that drew about 170 people, many of whom marched onto westbound Interstate 494 and blocked traffic for about 30 minutes.
“Once the investigation has wrapped, the [Sheriff’s Office] can see about releasing more information,” the sheriff’s office said in a written statement.
Drayna said he could not comment on the shooting because it is under the Sheriff’s Office purview.
“Being the main investigative agency, anything involving the scene or incident should come from them,” Drayna said.
The names of the officers involved also will be released pending further investigation, Drayna said.
“We’re waiting to give the officers a chance to consult with their attorneys and give their statements” to investigators, he said, adding that he doesn’t know whether they have spoken to investigators.
The practice of allowing officers involved in fatal encounters a few days to speak with investigators has come under recent scrutiny. Prosecutors trying former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor in April for the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk Damond criticized the preferential treatment of Noor’s partner, Matthew Harrity, who was allowed to speak with investigators in his lawyer’s home over doughnuts and coffee a few days after the 2017 shooting. Witnesses to police shootings are typically interviewed immediately, often at police headquarters.
The silence from authorities is frustrating, said Quinones’ longtime friend Bryan Vinces.
“We’re all just kind of confused and lost,” he said of Quinones’ family and friends. “We just feel like … the police generally kind of failed Brian with just how everything was handled.”
Vinces questioned whether police could have done more to de-escalate the situation before resorting to using deadly force. Quinones’ family could not be reached for comment.
Police have said that Quinones was fatally shot near E. 77th Street and Chicago Avenue in Richfield after leading Edina police on a chase.
Edina police officers reported that a man ran a red light near York Avenue and refused to pull over about 10:20 p.m. Saturday. They followed Quinones into Richfield, where he allegedly ran through more stoplights, according to emergency dispatch audio.
Police forced a stop, and Quinones allegedly exited his vehicle armed with a knife and “confronted” police, who opened fire, according to Edina authorities. Three Richfield and two Edina police officers were involved and remain on paid administrative leave.
Joseph Daly, an professor emeritus at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law who has extensive background arbitrating police-use-of-force cases, said while police have a duty to de-escalate situations, state law and police policies give them broad discretion to use deadly force.
A knife instead of a gun doesn’t negate an officer’s ability to use deadly force, he said.
“When someone comes at a police officer with a gun or a knife or a baseball bat or some kind of instrument that can be used as a deadly weapon, most police policies are fairly clear that they have a right to shoot the person,” Daly said. “The question being raised these days is: Is there a way to back off or are there alternatives? Some people would argue in that Richfield case that a Taser [could be used, but] that’s not in most policies.”
Daly, a proponent of de-escalation training and alternatives to deadly force, said many factors come into play when determining whether deadly use of force is appropriate: the proximity of the person to police, the person’s actions toward police, weapons involved and the officers’ ability to retreat, among others.
Daly said he was speaking generally and not about the Quinones case because he doesn’t know extensive details about the shooting.
“A person can move really fast and you don’t have very much time,” he said. “And as the person moves closer and moves in on you … should you turn and run rather than shoot the guy?”
Grand juries and county attorneys find it difficult to charge officers in cases where a person allegedly charges police while armed with a weapon, Daly said. There has been no independent evidence released indicating that Quinones charged police.
Quinones recorded himself driving away from police and repeatedly glancing in the rearview mirror as police lights flashed behind him. He appeared calm, moving his head to music and occasionally singing along. He suddenly stopped the car and jumped out.
The video, shown from the vantage point of the dashboard near the steering wheel looking out through the car’s windows, captured officers running up alongside the vehicle. The officers gave verbal commands before about a dozen shots were heard. Quinones was not visible during the encounter.
“Incidents like these, you just question the training they receive,” Vinces said. “Every day that passes it just leaves us with more and more questions than answers.”
Quinones, Vinces said, was funny and kind and left behind a 12-year-old son. His obituary said he worked at General Mills, was a hip-hop artist and a barber.
“He was a gentle soul who loved his wife and son unconditionally,” the obituary said.