Mpls. honors cops who saved lives, faced danger

Minneapolis police chief Janee Harteau presents a lifesaving award to officer Shawn Kelly who, along with his partner, administered first aid to a man injured by a train in 2013. (Brandt Williams/MPR News)

The Minneapolis Police Department is observing National Police Week, along with other departments around the country.  To mark the occasion, MPD is holding open houses at each of its five precincts this week, and held a ceremony today to honor its officers and civilian employees.

The department also presented a citizen award of valor to Mohamed Armeli, who chased after a man who punched a small child and took the child’s iPad. “Mr. Armeli, obviously shocked by the nature of the crime and the violence shown to the young boy, sprinted out the door and chased the suspect four blocks down Nicollet Avenue,” said Police Chief Janee Harteau, who presented Armeli with the award. “Not knowing if the suspect was armed, but knowing he was willing to assault a young boy for an electronic device, Mr. Armeli confronted the suspect and shortly after, police arrived and took him into custody,” she said.

Nearly two dozen officers received awards for saving lives in 2013 including officers Oscar Macias and Shawn Kelly.

Last February, Macias and Kelly responded to a call for help about a man struck by a train. Harteau said Macias and Kelly applied tourniquets to the man’s severed limbs and saved his life.

MPD awarded Medals of Valor to several officers who responded to a “man with a gun” call in north Minneapolis last March which turned into a day-long standoff with an armed man who was later determined to have a mental illness.

Police say the man, 27-year-old Jelani Jernigan, fired a shot at a neighbor and then barred himself in a home on Aldrich Avenue N. Chief Harteau said at one point during the standoff, Jernigan left the home, fired at officers and ran back inside, as officers returned fire.  “I still am in awe at the fact that our officers are willing to run into gunfire as others run out,” said Harteau.

Last month, Jernigan was acquitted of assault charges due to mental illness.  According to court documents, a doctor who examined Jernigan determined that he suffers from “severe psychotic illness,” which was likely worsened by drug abuse at the time of the incident.  Jernigan has been committed to the state security hospital.

MPR News wrote about Jernigan as part its roundup of 2013 gun crime in Hennepin County:

Man charged after day-long standoff with police

Minneapolis police requested a warrant to enter Jelani Jernigan’s residence on the 3800 block of Aldrich Ave. N. while they were engaged in a March 8 standoff with him.

According to the warrant, police tried to get a phone inside the residence with a “robotic bobcat” but Jernigan fired his shotgun at it. They also say Jernigan fired at officers as they attempted to get OC gas inside the house.

After they took him into custody, police searched and found at least one shotgun – a pump action Remington 870 (with a live round still in the chamber). Police also found a folding stock for a weapon in the garage, as well as a several discharged shotgun rounds as well as live ones.

Hennepin County ordered a Rule 20 competency exam for Jernigan who was charged with 1st and 2nd degree assault as well as illegal possession of a firearm.

Jernigan’s attorney Doug Myren says Jernigan has experienced periods of mental illness and says he doesn’t think Jernigan was in his right mind on March 8.