Report: Teenager shot by Crystal cops had toy gun, history of mental illness

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Khaleel Thompson's mother says his police shooting was inspired by a toy gun and mental illness. KARE 11

 The black man shot by police in the Minneapolis suburb of Crystal on Wednesday morning survived, despite the flurry of shots aimed at him.

Khaleel Thompson, 18, is in critical condition and needs several surgeries, including one to remove a bullet from his brain, Thompson's mother told the Star Tribune Thursday

Naomi Thompson also volunteered what she knew about the incident that led to Crystal police firing dozens of rounds at her son. Khaleel was holding a toy gun  -- "like something a kid would have," his mom says -- when cops confronted him in a public park near an apartment complex.

On Wednesday, police said they had encountered a man wielding a firearm in public; scanner audio has officers saying the man was "refusing to put it down." (Naomi Thompson now guesses her son was "scared" by the situation.) Amateur video of the incident is blurry, but the audio captures the barrage of police rounds fired at Thompson.

Thompson added that her son had a history of "severe" mental illness, which local police should have been familiar with, having come out to check on Khaleel Thompson in the past. Khaleel's issues included suicidal thoughts and depression; once, in St. Louis Park, a police negotiator managed to talk the troubled teenager into giving up his knife before hurting himself. 

Thompson's mother couldn't state definitively the extent of his injuries -- she left the hospital Wednesday night, unable to bear the sight of her son -- but says any recovery will be "difficult." She ruled out the possibility of Khaleel continuing his education. 

In the police version of events, as explained by Crystal Police Chief Stephanie Revering soon after Wednesday's shooting, officers responding to Bassett Creek Park felt they were in "imminent danger" and acted out of self-defense, noting they "immediately provided first aid" after shooting Thompson.

UPDATE: A release from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension says a "preliminary investigation" indicates Khaleel Thompson was "holding a black, hand-gun style airsoft gun" when he was shot by police, and that Thompson had "point[ed] the weapon at officers."

According to the BCA release, one officer, Mason Barland, fired "non-lethal rounds" at Thompson, and that three other officers -- Kathleen Gomez, Brian Elfstrom, and Txeng Vangh -- eventually shot their firearms. The incident was recorded on the dashboard camera of a police squad car. The BCA will release its ultimate findings to the Hennepin County Attorney's office, which will determine any criminal charges stemming from the case.


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