Revelations in Isak Aden murder case show police wrongdoing, family calls for independent prosecutor
Minneapolis, MN – A September 5 press conference at the offices of CAIR MN made public new information in the police murder of 23-year-old Isak Aden. Aden, a breadwinner and caregiver for his younger siblings and disabled grandmother, was surrounded on July 2 by 90 officers for four hours in the Twin Cities suburb of Eagan, before fatal shots were fired by five cops from the cities of Eagan and Bloomington.
For two months, his family and hundreds of community members have rallied and marched justice for Isak, demanding the release of audio and video from the incident, and the firing and prosecution of the killers. The officers are back on duty, as the official investigation continues, and no decision has been made on prosecuting the officers. However, pressure has won the release of some information to Aden’s siblings. From hundreds of pages of transcripts and reports, a timeline of events disproves the story that police and media reported at the outset.
Eagan Police Chief Roger New claimed that Isak was involved in a domestic assault, but the documents make it clear that police knew otherwise. Isak’s brother Badrudin Aden said, “In a statement given to Officer Meyers, the reporting party was unable to identify when they saw the supposed weapon and admitted there was never an assault. After receiving the statement, Officer Meyer’s narrative states that he then transported her down to the scene, all while Isak was alive.” According to Badrudin, all of this shows “Isak Aden was never a threat to begin with.”
He continued, “This brings us to the reports about there being a standoff in which ‘after hours of negotiations, shots were fired’. This was clearly worded to leave room for interpretation and assumptions. According to the incident detail report provided by the Bloomington Police department, [Isak] was already sitting down, on the ground with his hands on his face, unarmed, at 8:56 p.m. He was unarmed when they engaged him at 10:38 p.m. They isolated him, mentally and emotionally tortured him, and then essentially executed him.”
Isak’s sister, Sumaya Aden, agreed. “A standoff is defined as a stalemate or a deadlock between two equally matched opponents in a dispute or conflict. There was never a standoff. 90 law enforcement officers in SWAT gear, with armored vehicles, and rifles against an innocent, frightened and unarmed 23-year-old are not equally matched opponents.”
While it was emotional for them to read reports from the night Isak was killed, the siblings also expressed relief that the brother they knew was reflected there, contrary to the false descriptions in public statements by police and in media reports.
Sumaya said, “We know who our brother was, and we have known since the beginning that these allegations were false. We've seen law enforcement time and time again exceed their sworn jurisdiction and abuse power by choosing to act as judge, jury and executioners by murdering innocent, compliant, unarmed black men at a disproportionate rate.”
Before ending her statement, Sumaya Adencalled for an independent prosecutor to handle her brother’s case. Dakota County Prosecutor James Backstrom has never prosecuted police for killing civilians, instead dismissing a dozen such cases without charges.
She described how Prosecutor Backstrom is not impartial, “[He] is now refusing to let the Ramsey County medical examiners release our brother’s autopsy report to us. In 2009, Backstrom was publicly reprimanded by the Minnesota Supreme Court for discouraging a Washington County medical examiner to testify for the defense in a murder trial by saying, ‘you work for us, not them.’”
“Nothing we do from here on out will bring our brother back but what we are determined to do, is to ensure that he gets a fair and impartial prosecutor who will do their job. That is why we are demanding James Backstrom…assign the case to an outside, independent prosecutor with no conflict of interest. County prosecutors have done this in other cases and it is an accepted practice.”
After the press conference, the Aden family became the latest targets of cowardly islamophobic reporting by the local Fox news station. Under the headline, “Family’s attempt to hide public information shrouds Eagan fatal police shooting in transparency controversy,” Fox criticized the family for redacting small portions from the documents.
Sumaya countered, “Let’s ask [Fox reporter] Leah Beno why she cropped out and reported without the time stamps on the far left of the Incident Detail Report that shows that Isak was unarmed for almost two hours when law enforcement engaged and essentially killed him.” She continued, “We wanted to specifically address how this 911 phone call, with confirmation from the reporting party, was false. How Eagan knew that my brother was not a threat to begin with and how he was compliant and unarmed when they engaged & killed him.”
“The 90 officers on the scene mentally and emotionally tortured Isak. This is their and the media’s attempt to do the same to us. But this proud sister is unfazed. We’ve got an amazing family, community, and group of activists behind us with way too much fight in them to let this effect anything. Like I said, come a little harder next time because these two 20-year-olds have seen and been through more than you could ever imagine. And we’re still here – fighting. Ya’ll can work, but our God works harder.”