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The man Minneapolis police say killed officer Jamal Mitchell last week stood in a federal courtroom nearly a decade ago as the judge who was sentencing him on a gun conviction pushed him to reckon with his crimes.

"I am taking full responsibility for my actions, and I hope to learn from my mistakes," Mustafa Ahmed Mohamed told U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank at the time, according to a court transcript.

Last week, police say, Mohamed fatally shot Mitchell on a Whittier neighborhood street, the first Minneapolis officer killed on the job in more than two decades. Mohamed, 35, who was then shot and killed by another officer, had by that point spent more than half of his life in and out of serious trouble with the law, according to court records.

At the time of his death, two warrants were active for the arrest of Mohamed in connection with charges that he possessed a gun on a downtown Minneapolis street in summer 2022, in violation of the terms of his sentences for burglaries in 2006 and 2007.

It was April 2015 when Mohamed faced Frank in the federal courtroom in St. Paul. He was being sentenced for felony possession of a stolen gun while in an Eden Prairie apartment garage.

Officer Jamal Mitchell, left, was photographed in a 2023 Minneapolis police awards ceremony where he was presented with a Lifesaving Award by Chief Brian O’Hara.
Officer Jamal Mitchell, left, was photographed in a 2023 Minneapolis police awards ceremony where he was presented with a Lifesaving Award by Chief Brian O’Hara.

Renée Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

Frank outlined Mohamed's crimes up to that point, among them the two felony-level burglaries and a charge in Tennessee for being part of a child sex trafficking ring, a case ultimately dismissed against him and others. The judge then encouraged Mohamed to take advantage of the educational and substance-abuse treatment opportunities at his disposal in the federal prison system.

That's when Mohamed apologized. He hoped to learn from his mistakes, he said, adding: "Thank you, that is all."

Frank responded: "For reasons I don't quite understand, I don't think we have been able to reach you," with the various convictions and sentences, at times lenient, imposed up to that point.

Frank gave Mohamed an eight-year sentence. He was set free in May 2020 and put on supervised release. In August 2022, he was arrested again with a gun at 12th and Hennepin avenues, according to pending state charges. While out on a non-cash bond, the warrants were issued after Mohamed failed to appear for a hearing.

Now less than two years later, according to Minneapolis police and the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Mohamed was near the scene of last week's double shooting in a Blaisdell Avenue apartment. Moments later, he died outside from police gunfire in response to him repeatedly shooting Mitchell — the officer who was trying to help Mohamed.

Mustafa Mohamed's earlier crimes

Hennepin County court records show that Mohamed has been committing crimes since he was at least as young as 17, when he was convicted of auto theft. Before becoming an adult at 18, he was convicted again, this time for tampering with a vehicle.

A week after turning 18 in October 2006, Mohamed and two others slipped into a south Minneapolis woman's ground-level apartment through an open window. The woman was knocked to the ground before they fled in a van.

Mohamed pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary, and Hennepin County District Judge William Koch chose to set aside a four-year sentence and put him on probation, a punishment that Frank seven years later called a "sweetheart deal."

In May 2008, Mohamed violated the terms of his probation when he broke into an O'Reilly Auto Parts store on E. Lake Street late at night and removed two cash drawers and a safe bolted to the office floor. He pleaded guilty and received a 1½-year sentence from Koch that ran concurrent with the prison time revived for violating terms of his probation for the apartment break-in.