Tania Harris, 18, was shot by police and charged with assault after officers claim the woman would not drop a knife that family members say she was using to defend herself.
Kim Tolbert said she called police Thursday night after the trio, one male and two females, showed up at their apartment building in the 3700 block of Hubbard Avenue N. in Robbinsdale to “jump on” Harris. Tolbert said efforts to get the three to leave were unsuccessful and her daughter was holding the knife to defend herself. “She was really scared,” she said.
But the criminal complaint says Harris “burst” out the apartment door, chasing a woman with the knife and screaming, “I’m going to kill you, bitch!” The complaint says that the police officer ordered Harris to stop and drop the knife — a command heard by at least two witnesses, investigators say — but she didn’t stop running or drop the weapon. An officer fired twice, wounding Harris, and then recovered the knife.
Tania was then taken to the hospital where authorities were preventing her family from visiting her. After community outrage and a protest march that ended at the hospital, authorities have consented to let her family see her. Members of the community are still enraged by the shooting, claiming that it was absolutely unnecessary.
“I know police have a job to do, but there has to be another way to deal with a teenage girl,” said Bishop Larry Cook of Real Believers Faith Center in north Minneapolis, where the family worships. “For her to be shot two times to me seems to be totally unnecessary.”
Harris’ mother and 7-year-old sister, who witnessed the shooting, said other witnesses disputed whether officers made any commands to Harris to put down the knife before she was shot. Cook said the 18-year-old was just holding the knife, and was shot within 5 feet of the officer.
“Police were called to protect them. And their daughter gets shot,” Cook said. “It’s easy to say, ‘Just drop that knife’ … of course she should have stayed in the house … [But] did she deserve to get shot?”
The family plans to take legal action against the police who are currently investigating themselves to prove they didn’t do anything wrong. Tania is listed in stable condition, but will require more surgery. When she recovers she will be charged with a crime that she did not commit and which she herself was the victim of. In the meantime, more protests are planned and family, friends, and community members are reaching out to the public to bring Tania’s shooting to light amongst the litany of unjustifiable police shootings of black citizens that has reached epidemic proportions.