St. Paul, MN – Protesters and social justice warriors are demanding “justice” for a suspect who crashed into the back of a patrol vehicle and attacked the lone officer with a knife (video below).
St. Paul Police Officer Steven Mattson was patrolling in the Hamline-Midway neighborhood at approximately 6 p.m. on Sept. 15, when a vehicle suddenly ran into the back of his, MPR reported.
Bodycam footage showed Officer Mattson as he got out of the patrol car to speak with the other driver, who was later identified as 31-year-old Ronald Davis.
But by the time he got himself out of his patrol vehicle, Officer Mattson was already under attack with essentially no time to react.
Davis ran over to the officer with a knife raised above his head, just as the officer realized what was occurring, the video showed.
Officer Mattson yelled out and scrambled to create distance between him and his attacker, but fell to the ground in the process.
A witness later told police that she saw Davis throw Officer Mattson to the ground, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported.
“Holy f--k!” the officer screamed during the attack.
He jumped back to his feet and backpedaled as he drew his duty weapon, the video showed.
“Get away from me!” he ordered Davis. “Drop the knife!”
The violent suspect sprinted directly at the officer with the knife in his right hand and the officer’s flashlight gripped in his left, the video showed.
Officer Mattson continued to issue commands as he ran away from the suspect, who rapidly closed in on him.
“Drop the f--king knife!” the officer yelled one last time, just before he fired his duty weapon.
Davis collapsed to the ground as Officer Mattson ran behind his patrol vehicle, the video showed.
He then radioed for additional officers and requested emergency medical personnel to stage nearby.
Davis was later pronounced dead at the scene, MPR reported.
Protesters immediately began staging demonstrations after the fatal altercation, alleging that Davis wasn’t a threat to the officer and that he had been racially profiled, KARE reported.
Others claimed that police were lying about Davis being armed with a knife.
One Facebook event page, “Justice for Ronald Davis Protest and Vigil,” referred to Davis as “the most recent victim” of St. Paul police.
The event, which was hosted by anti-police groups including Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro, Communities United Against Police Brutality, and the Racial Justice Network, accused police of “planting evidence, falsifying reports, re-recording audio, destroying evidence, intimidating witnesses and family members, as well as controlling the narrative.”
Approximately 60 protesters gathered on Sunday to march from the St. Paul Police Department’s (SPPD) Western District to the location where the officer-involved shooting occurred less than a mile away, KARE reported.
“We already know we don’t trust them!” one speaker said of the local police force.
Some carried Black Lives Matter signs, while others waived “Justice for Ronald Davis” posters, the Star Tribune reported.
“It’s disgusting that the people who are supposed to protect us are out here killing us,” railed Davis’ friend, Abdul, according to Fight Back News. “When I heard the news, I was shocked because he was a very respectful, kind person. He would say, ‘Yes, sir, yes, ma’am. He wasn’t an aggressive person, even though he was big.”
The crowd blocked the light rail and motor traffic as they conducted their march.
“This is a reminder to the police that, yes, Ronald’s life mattered — but also to the community to keep them aware,” protest organizer Monique Cullars-Doty said, according to WCCO. “Saying, okay, something here has happened. A man’s life was taken and it’s not okay.”
Cullars-Doty described Davis as “a gentle soul” who would never “act in the character as the Saint Paul police have described him,” Fight Back News reported.
“We know the St. Paul police are the deadliest police department in the state,” she added.
Another protester, Loretta Van Pelt, declared that officers should be fired from the force if they fire their weapons in the line of duty.
“Enough is enough. When you shoot that gun, when that cop shoots that gun, they shouldn’t have a job anymore,” Van Pelt said, according to Fight Back News. “It shouldn’t be a paid vacation with administrative leave.”
St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell has staunchly defended Officer Mattson, and said he had “no choice but to defend himself against an immediate and violent attack,” KARE reported.
Officer Mattson has been with the department for less than a year, according to MPR News.
"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 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 simply do not have the facts," Chief Axtell told reporters, according to NBC News.
The chief acknowledged that the bodycam footage was difficult to watch, but noted that he takes solace in the fact that Officer Mattson was not seriously injured or murdered, KARE reported.
“What I do know is this...his life will never, ever be the same,” he said.
“I remain hopeful that quickly releasing this video will allow us to move forward with some mature discourse about how such tragedies can [be presented] in the future without having to wade through the waters of irresponsible accusations of murder, calculated cries of injustice, and threats against one of my officers,” Chief Axtell added.
"Continuing to swim in a sea of lies and distorted facts will only keep us caught in the undertow of distrust," the chief continued, according to KARE. "Wearing a badge does not automatically make you wrong, any more than standing in a street with a megaphone automatically makes you right."
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter also defended Officer Mattson.
“I can’t look at that video and imagine what else Officer Mattson could’ve…done,” Carter said, according to KARE.
But even after the bodycam footage was released, anti-police demonstrators continued their allegations.
Civil rights attorney Nekima Levy Armstrong demanded that investigators produce more footage – perhaps from street cameras or the officer’s dashcam, KARE reported.
“We don’t see the full scope of what happened,” Armstrong alleged. “We don’t know what happened after the fact. We don’t know what happened leading up to Ronald K. Davis being shot and killed by police.”
She said that the group is outraged that Chief Axtell suggested they have been fueling the community’s distrust for law enforcement, and said that the bodycam footage “actually leaves us with more questions than answers,” WCCO reported.
Armstrong and her fellow protesters also demanded that an outside agency be established to handle officer-involved shooting investigations.
Davis' criminal history shows that in 2018, he was convicted of having burglarized a T-Mobile store in September of 2017, the Twin Cities Pioneer press reported.
He was also convicted of robbery with a firearm in Chicago approximately 10 years ago.
A GoFundMe account established to help Davis’ wife of three months has raised over $100 so far.
Officer Mattson was initially placed on administrative leave following the officer-involved shooting, as per protocol.
He has since returned to work in a non-patrol position, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported.
The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office will determine whether or not Officer Mattson’s use of deadly force was justified.
You can watch bodycam footage of Officer Mattson’s encounter with Davis in the video below. WARNING - Graphic content and language.