Family of slain teen files discrimination complaint against police

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Supporters of Fong Lee, the teenager who was shot by police Saturday in North Minneapolis, on Wednesday filed a complaint with the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department alleging discrimination.

At a City Hall press conference attended by Lee’s parents and an estimated 200 supporters, Lee Pao Xiong of the Hmong Advocacy Coalition announced the filing of the complaint. “Many questions are unanswered,” he said.

According to police reports, the 19-year-old Lee was spotted brandishing a gun on the playground of Cityview Elementary School, 3350 N. 4th St., around 7 p.m. Saturday night. A state trooper and a Minneapolis police officer reportedly confronted him there and shot him when he refused to put down the gun.

Lee’s supporters wonder why his family wasn’t notified of the shooting until 12 hours after the incident, Xiong said. There are also questions regarding the lack of information made available to the family and why the police involved in the shooting were back to work after only three days. “Was a grand jury convened?” he asked. “Is the investigation over?”

Xiong also claimed that the gun Lee was reportedly carrying was not found in his possession. “If the gun was not on Fong Lee, was he really a threat?” he asked. “We have more questions than answers.”

Richard Hechter, an attorney representing Lee’s family, said a preliminary investigation has turned up eyewitnesses whose “accounts differ dramatically from what the police have revealed through the media.”

Neither Hechter nor Xiong would take questions from reporters during the press conference, but Interim Police Chief Tim Dolan surprised the crowd by approaching the microphone and delivering a statement of his own. He said he had been in contact with Asian community leaders to try to keep them informed on the incident and noted that Lee’s family declined to talk with police until they had talked with their attorneys.

“We’re more than happy to sit down and talk with Hmong leaders,” he said, adding that he would be willing to share evidence and autopsy results with the community.

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