Charging documents accusing 21-year-old Deshawn Nelson of second-degree assault were released on Monday, explaining that the St. Paul officer who shot him multiple times believed he had a "big handgun."
According to the criminal complaint, a St. Paul police sergeant was at the scene of a burglary report in the 1800 block of Marshall Avenue at about 4:10 a.m. on Sunday when he heard what he believed were 5 gunshots to the northwest. That sergeant then returned to his squad and proceeded north up an alley, keeping the windows open and the headlights off.
After turning north on Dewey Street, the officer saw a vehicle believed to be a maroon Ford Edge on Marshall Avenue. When he turned on the squad headlights, he said the driver and passenger in the front seat appeared surprised.
The criminal complaint states that when the officer activated his emergency lights, the SUV fled. The officer then activated his siren and gave chase to southbound Wheeler Street.
The SUV came to a sharp stop at the alley south of Marshall Avenue, and Nelson exited the car with what the officer described as a "big handgun" in his right hand. The officer signaled that Nelson had a gun and said he was watching the weapon closely in case it was thrown.
Meanwhile, the sergeant removed his service weapon from his holster and readied it near his chest as he turned into the alley with his squad. Both the squad lights and siren were still active.
The sergeant reported that Nelson moved to the left of the alley, turned and pointed the gun at him, and said he believed Nelson intended to kill him in his squad. At that point, the officer brought up his gun, fired and hit Nelson.
The criminal complaint says the officer knew he struck Nelson because he watched him flinch and thought, "Why isn't he going down?"
Instead, Nelson ran south, over a fence and fell while the sergeant exited his squad, reloaded his magazine, and gave chase. The criminal complaint says the officer could still see the gun in Nelson's hand as he yelled, "Drop the gun! Drop the gun! Police! Drop the gun!"
Nelson, however, kept fleeing, according to the criminal complaint. He jumped over another fence at a home in the 1700 block of Dayton Avenue. The sergeant said when he stood, he began to raise the gun, and the officer shot him again.
The officer said after Nelson was struck in the second bout of gunfire, he "went down hard." The sergeant yelled for him to show his hands, but Nelson got up again. The criminal complaint says the sergeant "thought Nelson may have been wearing body armor because being shot wasn't affecting him."
Yet, the document states that Nelson staggered away from that second shooting, and escaped the officer's line of sight. When the officer saw Nelson turn again, he shot him a third time because he believed Nelson intended to shoot him, charging documents allege.
Nelson fell in a boulevard, and the officer radioed a call that he had a person down who needed medical attention. When he approached, he saw that Nelson's hands were empty.
After first responders removed Nelson from the scene, the officer walked back to show investigators where he was when he opened fire. On that walk back, Nelson located a silver Ruger P94 handgun on the ground near the front porch of a Dayton Avenue home.
A neighbor who heard the sirens and gunfire grabbed his shotgun and saw the officer standing over Nelson with his service weapon drawn. That neighbor said no other people were in the area, and the officer asked him to watch his back in case the SUV returned. Once back-up arrived, the man went back in his home.
Nelson was advised of his constitutional rights and agreed to speak with police. He admitted to fleeing a newer, red car because he thought he had warrants for not paying his train fares in Minneapolis; however, he denied having a gun. Instead, he told police he had a phone in his hand when he fled the car.
Nelson's mother and brother spoke with Fox 9 News about the shooting on Monday, and they don't believe Nelson would have had a gun.
"He wouldn't do nothing like that," Antonio Thompson insisted. "They can check his history -- criminal history. It's squeaky clean. He graduated from high school, was taking care of his son."
Fox 9 News confirmed that Nelson does not have a criminal record in Minnesota, and his mother says that's why learning her son was shot seven times doesn't make sense.
"He's never been to jail. He's a good kid," Yolanda Phelps said.
Nelson remains in critical condition at Regions Hospital. Phelps told Fox 9 News her son was shot seven times while fleeing, and she said she has only been able to see him through a window because police say he is arrested.
Now that he has been charged with a felony, he has been ordered to be detained and held on $100,000 bail.