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Soldier fired shots on vehicle that posed a threat, Minnesota Guard commander says

An unknown vehicle allegedly driving at high speeds toward Minnesota National Guard personnel and their police counterparts was shot at three times in Minneapolis on Sunday night, the state adjutant general said during a Monday press conference with the governor.

“Our soldier fired three rounds from his rifle in response to a perceived and legitimate threat to him and the Minnesota police officers he was in direct support of,” said Minnesota National Guard commander Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen. “The vehicle changed course and fled the scene. At this time no injuries have been reported.”

Jensen said the vehicle’s driver refused to slow down after both “verbal and non-verbal” signals were given and “non-lethal methods” were employed. He did not elaborate on what those signals and methods were, but added that an investigation is underway.

It appears to be the second instance of mobilized guardsmen firing shots during the mass protests that have popped up across the country over the death of George Floyd, a black man whose videotaped death while handcuffed and in Minneapolis police custody sparked unrest across the country.

The first shooting occurred when Kentucky National Guardsmen and police discharged their weapons during a deadly shooting early Monday morning in Louisville after someone in a large group allegedly fired at them first. Kentucky’s governor called for the release of police video from that incident, but Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said Monday that police officers didn’t activate their body cameras.

“This type of institutional failure will not be tolerated,” Fischer said during a press conference.

The Louisville police chief was relieved of command after the shooting, which happened just past midnight outside a food market. Police and guardsmen were called in to break up a large group of individuals violating the city’s curfew, according to Louisville’s acting police chief, Robert Schroeder.

Schroeder said an investigation is underway, but it’s still not clear who fired the fatal shot that killed a Louisville man identified as David McAtee, the owner of a local barbecue restaurant.

“We do not know if it was related to a separate incident or the shots fired by our officers and the National Guard soldiers that accompanied them,” said Schroeder. “The two officers who fired their weapons violated our policy by not wearing or not activating their cameras.”

Schroeder said the Louisville Police Department was releasing video footage from their “Real-Time Crime Center” cameras that capture the incident, as well as radio transmissions from the scene.

“It was taken from a distance, but gives an overview of the scene and clearly shows the officers reacting to gunfire,” said Schroeder, adding that the National Guard would also conduct its own investigation.

On Monday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz also ordered the partial redeployment of his state’s guardsmen who were mobilized in the wake of protests.

Jensen said the redeployment will send some mobilized troops “back to their hometowns” and “back to their armories.”

“This is not an order to return the entire organization back home,” Jensen added. “With over 7,000 Minnesota National Guardsmen currently mobilized, I am confident that we can reduce our presence while meeting the needs of the mission.”

As of Sunday, more than 17,000 National Guard troops in 23 states and the District of Columbia have been activated to help local law enforcement across the country.

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