Three seconds into the video clip below, the frame shakes, the vehicle jolts, and the driver's hand shoots to the wheel instinctively.
He puts the car in park, opens the door, and gets out.
Almost immediately, St. Paul Police officer Steve Mattson is faced with a charging Ronald Davis, 31, who wields a knife in his right hand. Mattson tries to get away but stumbles to the ground, screaming, "Holy fuck!"
Davis calls for Mattson to "Get the fuck up," then stops to pick up the cop's flashlight after it falls off his belt.
Mattson regains his footing and screams "Get away from me!" and then: "Drop the knife! Drop the fucking knife!"
Davis keeps coming at Mattson, who eventually fires two shots into Davis at close range. Davis falls to the ground, as Mattson takes cover behind his squad car, radioing his location -- Thomas Avenue and Griggs Street -- and calling for backup and a medic to treat Davis.
Though Davis continues to advance on the officer, the footage doesn't capture if his knife ever made contact with Mattson.
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell made the body camera footage public Tuesday, after activists and Mayor Melvin Carter urged for its swift release. Axtell says the tape exonerates Mattson of any suspected wrongdoing.
As quoted by the Star Tribune, Axtell said:
"While I recognize the trauma that has been caused by a history of policing practices throughout our country that have disproportionately affected communities of color, I also cannot stand by — I simply can’t sleep at night — knowing that a good officer, and all of our officers, are being assailed by people who don’t have the facts.”
Davis' killing is the ninth fatal police shooting in Minnesota this year and the first in St. Paul since 2016. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi will determine if Mattson's actions rise to the level of criminal charges.