Como homicide gets sloppy investigation

After Minneapolis homicide detectives uncovered on Tuesday the body of a man shot to death Monday in the Como neighborhood they were faced with a couple questions: Who shot him, and why? But we have a couple additional questions for the detectives: Why was the crime scene, containing the body, left unattended overnight, and why is the man who last saw the victim not a suspect? The unclear answers to these questions point to a sloppy investigation.
According to police reports, the 19-year-old victim was shot once in the chest at about 10:30 p.m. Monday upon entering a house at 1019 18th Ave. S.E. Minneapolis police were quick to respond to a 911 call placed by Rajab Jabbar, who dropped off the victim at the house. Police arrived at the scene shortly after 10:30 p.m. and were told the victim stumbled to a nearby heavily wooded area. Police searched the area for about an hour with dogs but couldn’t find the wounded man and then left the scene. Penny Parrish, a Minneapolis Police Department spokeswoman, said thick brush hindered the search effort. Finally, after police returned to the scene early Tuesday morning and after several more hours of searching they found the body at 11:25 a.m.
It is understandable that darkness and thick brush made the search difficult. It is hard to believe, however, it took more than 12 hours of combing a 2-block radius for search dogs and police to turn up the body, which was found 100 feet from the house. What is even more alarming is that police left the crime scene unattended for several hours; they left a dead body sit overnight in a small wooded patch of a densely populated neighborhood in which they were certain the victim had collapsed. Also, it was not immediately known that the victim even lay dead in the woods. The chances of someone surviving a shot to the chest are close to none, but police might have had a chance to save the man’s life, nonetheless. Choosing to postpone the search because of darkness or thick brush is irresponsible on the part of Minneapolis police.
What is also irresponsible is the police allowing Jabbar to walk free, without being a suspect for the crime. Jabbar told police he saw a man follow the victim out of the house after the shooting, but there are currently no other witnesses to confirm the existence of another man at the scene. The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, which owns the house in which the shooting occurred, lists the house as vacant. Neighbors said the house occupants had vacated the home on July 1 and that they were not seen at the residence since then. Although it is possible the victim interrupted people living illegally in the house or that he walked in on a burglary, he does not match the description of any resident listed on the address’s lease. Thus, it doesn’t make sense for Jabbar to drive the victim to the vacated address. Police might not have any clear reason to believe Jabbar was involved in the shooting; but they also do not have any clear evidence excluding him from the crime.
Jabbar, like any American is innocent until proven guilty, but he’s been guilty before: According to Minneapolis police records, Jabbar has been charged with second and fifth degree assaults between 1995 and 1997. He was also charged in a hit-and-run incident in 1997. Furthermore, Jabbar was dismissed without reason Tuesday from a halfway house in Dinkytown.
Whether Jabbar deserves to be treated or suspected as a criminal is not the issue. Police must never act on assumptions when dealing with murder. Arresting Jabbar should not be considered as charging without probable cause but as protecting the welfare of the Como neighborhood. Leaving the crime scene unattended and a possible suspect on the lam is doing little to protect Como residents. It is irresponsible.