Minneapolis police officer killed while responding to a shooting call is remembered as a hero

Published 7:21 am Wednesday, June 12, 2024

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MINNEAPOLIS — A Minneapolis police officer who was killed by a man he was trying to help at the site of a shooting was memorialized Tuesday as a hero who exemplified the type of public servant the city’s police force has been trying to recruit amid years of tumult.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told those gathered at a service for Officer Jamal Mitchell, 36, that he will be remembered as a hero in the city forever. Frey, Police Chief Brian O’Hara, family members, friends and fellow officers described a man whose high ethical standards led to him to Minneapolis, and perhaps even to his death at the hands of a person he was trying to save.

“It’s notable that he chose the profession of policing post-2020,” Frey said. “It’s even more notable that he affirmatively chose Minneapolis. Of all the places in the world, of all the professions in the world, of all the cities in the world, he chose us. Officer Jamal Mitchell was here for a reason.”

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Investigators are calling the May 30 shooting of Mitchell an ambush. They said he was responding to a call about a double shooting when he tried to help a man he believed was injured. That man shot Mitchell multiple times. Three other people, including the gunman, were killed.

Mitchell had been with the Minneapolis Police Department for about 18 months. His killing stunned a department that has struggled to fill its ranks since the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing turmoil. Officers from across the state and nation attended the service at a high school in the suburb of Maple Grove.

Tori Myslajek, Mitchell’s long-term partner and fiance, said Mitchell’s greatest joys were his four children.

“Our family is completely devastated by our recent loss. Jamal was our whole world,” Myslajek said in a statement. “Jamal and I created a beautiful life in Minnesota, and he was deeply passionate about helping and serving the community of Minneapolis.”

A procession of law enforcement officers escorted Mitchell’s American flag-draped casket into the high school gym and paced it beside a portrait of Mitchell. Above his casket, a photo slideshow showed him enjoying ski trips, football games and evenings at home with family and friends.

Mitchell’s body will be transported back to Connecticut, where he is from, said Minneapolis police spokesperson Brian Feintech. He was the first Minneapolis police officer to die by gunfire since 2002. In 2009, another officer was hit by a drunken driver and later died. Mitchell was killed three months after two officers and a firefighter-paramedic in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville were fatally shot while responding to a domestic violence call.

“I’ve said this since the day he died, and I will say this every day for as long as I live: Minneapolis Police Officer Jamal Mitchell represented all that is good about the men and women of the Minneapolis Police Department and about police officers around this state and around this country,” O’Hara told those gathered at the service for Mitchell.

In the May attack, officers responded to a call of a double shooting at an apartment complex in the south Minneapolis neighborhood of Whittier. Mitchell was the first to respond and approached 35-year-old Mustafa Mohamed outside. When the officer asked if Mohamed was injured, Mohamed pulled a gun and shot Mitchell several times.

Another officer arrived and exchanged gunfire with Mohamed, who died of his injuries, Minneapolis Assistant Police Chief Katie Blackwell said.

The second officer sustained non-life-threatening wounds. Another person, believed to be a bystander, was critically wounded. A responding firefighter had minor injuries.

Authorities said two people were shot inside the apartment and died: Osman Said Jimale, 32, and Mohamed Aden, 36.

Few details about the initial shooting have been released, and investigators have not speculated on Mohamed’s motives. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, he had been convicted of federal gun charges and was released from prison in 2020. He was arrested with a handgun about two years later. Warrants were issued after he failed to appear at a hearing.

Mitchell was born on Feb. 12, 1988, in New Haven, Connecticut, according to an obituary handed out at his funeral. He enjoyed sharing his love of basketball with his children. His pickup basketball teammates called him “the glue that held it all together.”

Mitchell was previously lauded by the Minneapolis Police Department for rescuing an elderly couple from a house fire on his third day on the job.

He was posthumously awarded the department’s two highest honors, a Medal of Honor and a Purple Heart.

Denise Raper, Mitchell’s aunt, said her nephew always strove to protect those in need.

“This was Jamal’s purpose, to reach down and pick you up,” Raper said. She added: “This was Jamal’s assignment. This was Jamal’s mission. And through our tears and heavy hearts, we collectively say: Mission accomplished.”