St. Paul police release body cam video of officer shooting, wounding man after responding to assault call

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St. Paul police released body-camera footage Friday of an officer shooting and wounding a man after responding to a 911 call last weekend.

Brett Kohl Fraser, 31, is out of the hospital. He was jailed on warrants unrelated to last Saturday’s incident, but has since been released. A case has not been presented for charging consideration in the assault that police were called to last weekend.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter and Police Chief Axel Henry have said they’re committed, in the interest of transparency, to releasing body-camera footage when there’s a shooting by police after the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension collects preliminary witness statements.

The BCA, the agency investigating, said Wednesday that St. Paul police responded to a Frogtown apartment just after midnight last Saturday on reports of a man physically and sexually assaulting a woman. A 911 call said a female was screaming for help and the man was armed with a gun, according to a brief summary report from St. Paul police.

Officers knocked on the door in the 400 block of Thomas Avenue and identified themselves. Fraser’s address was listed as the apartment building in a recent court document.

They were able to get the female to leave safely, while Fraser remained inside, the St. Paul report said. The officers called to Fraser to come to the door and show himself, and he “charged out,” the report continued. Officer Josh Needham fired three rounds at Fraser and one struck him in the arm.

The video appears to align with the initial police report. It shows police officers knocking on an apartment door, a woman soon coming out without incident and then a man rushing out as an officer backpedals. Then three shots are fired.

Crime scene personnel found a replica handgun in a backpack in the apartment; it’s not clear to whom it belongs, the BCA said.

Anoka County cases

When the BCA completes its investigation, it will present a case file to the Ramsey County attorney’s office about the allegations against Fraser and the use of force by Needham, said Bonney Bowman, a BCA spokesperson. The BCA’s goal is to complete use-of-force investigations within 60 days.

“This investigation is complex and the actions of Mr. Fraser and Officer Needham are closely tied together,” Bowman said. “Presenting one without the other would mean a lack of context for both.”

After Fraser was treated at the hospital, he was taken to jail for his warrants — not connected to Saturday’s case — that were issued in November when he didn’t appear in court for three Anoka County cases.

Fraser was released Wednesday from the Anoka County jail. He couldn’t be reached for comment Friday and an attorney representing him in Anoka County said he had no comment.

Prosecutors charged Fraser in October after Walmart loss prevention reported seeing a male, later identified as Fraser, conceal multiple items and leave the Fridley store. He had a white crystal substance in his wallet that field tested positive as methamphetamine, and four pills that Fraser said were fentanyl, according to a criminal complaint charging him with two counts of drug possession, one felony and one gross misdemeanor.

In March, Fraser walked out of Cub Foods in Blaine on Northtown Drive carrying a box of diapers he hadn’t paid for and was cited for misdemeanor theft, according to a complaint.

In August 2022, a police officer was dispatched to Target on Springbrook Drive in Coon Rapids on a report of a person using drugs at the store’s entrance. The officer saw Fraser sitting against a pillar on the sidewalk in front of the store. He appeared to be sleeping and had in his lap a piece of tinfoil with burnt dark residue, and Fraser told the officer he’d been using fentanyl, a complaint said. He was charged with gross misdemeanor drug possession.

Fraser was in court Wednesday for the cases and bail was set at $5,000 without conditions or release on his personal recognizance with conditions.

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