Questions Remain in Khalil Ahmad Azad’s ‘Accidental Drowning’ After Police Chase

‘They Said He Was Beaten Worse Than Emmett Till’

Khalil Ahmad Azad’s family and loved ones will meet from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. CST Saturday to celebrate his life along the same shores where it ended in Robbinsdale, Minnesota.




By Chrisleen Herard
Howard University News Service

Khalil Ahmad Azad wanted his long-time girlfriend, Carvona Henderson, to take five pregnancy tests to make sure it was real; he was going to be a father. It was all he talked about, a moment he waited for his whole life until the early hours of July 3, 2022, when he was pulled over by police – the last time he would be seen alive. 

Seven weeks later, his daughter was born.

“He was just trying to do anything to see his child,” Henderson said.

It was almost 1:30 in the morning when officers in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, said they attempted to pull over a driver of a white SUV for “probable cause DWI.” Instead of a simple traffic stop, a chase ensued.

“We’ve got a vehicle that’s fleeing from me and looks like it’s gonna crash here. …Driver’s bailing,” Officer Tony Heifort is heard saying on police body camera footage. 

The SUV hit a curb and crashed into a tree. Azad, who reportedly had an active warrant at the time, fled, both in fear of his life and in hopes that he wouldn’t get arrested and miss witnessing the birth of his first child.

“He’s had run-ins where the police have beaten him before,” Henderson said. “So, he’s scared of the police. He want[ed] to see his daughter born, and he just [didn’t] wanna get arrested. He [didn’t] know what they [were] gonna do to him.”

According to Henderson, she was in the car when Azad was pulled over by police for an active warrant in Dec. 2020. Azad, who was wearing a neck brace from a car accident the month before, was repeatedly slammed into the ground.

“When they pulled us over, they had about eight AK guns in our faces,” Henderson said. “He had his hands up. … and they grabbed him out the car, slammed him on the car [and] put their knee in his back. He kept saying ‘It was hurting,’ and they kept slamming him and slamming him into the ground.”

Monica Lopez, a close friend of Azad, further detailed his past with police. “I feel like ever since I’ve known this man, I just know that every encounter he’s had with the police has just been a horrible outcome. Every time. The police really [did] not like him, like he was known out here by them, by name and everything.” 

“I really felt like they were out to get him.”

In addition to the past run-ins and alleged brutality, Lopez and a close family friend by the name of Liah Milli, recount the times Azad spent in jail.

“Whenever I would go see him, he would tell me about instances with, not even just the police, but with the correctional officers that were in there about how they would be treating him,” Lopez said. “Like even with just small things, not letting him go out or putting him in solitary.”

“If it wasn’t them taking his food or his freedom away, the little freedom that he did have at that, it was them talking bad about him or doing something to him. It was always something and I just, I felt so bad all the time, but I couldn’t do anything.”

“Every time he was in jail, I was one of the first people that he always called,” Milli said. “The last time he went to jail, they had to switch his room from somebody because he said some older dude that was his cellmate was trying to pick fights with him, and they were trying to do stuff to him in there. The guards with his food and stuff like that.”

“He would just feel like he didn’t have anybody at times, and he felt alone. He felt like he was fighting demons. … And he would just call, you know, just to ask for support and help.”