Revolution #166, May 31, 2009
"Throw Down Gun" Used to Justify Police Killing of Fong Lee
Three years ago Fong Lee was shot in the back and killed by the police in Minneapolis. A distributor of the newspaper in Minneapolis sent me the following summary of this important story. It has been covered on the front page in the mainstream press in Minneapolis-St. Paul and also on Michael Moore's website. A notable element: The lawyer for the youth's family has uncovered heavy circumstantial evidence that the police used a "throw down gun" to try to cover up this outright murder—which is part of why many people who ordinarily might turn a blind eye are now closely following these unfolding events.
A blatant Minneapolis police execution of a Hmong youth, Fong Lee, has become a big problem for the Minneapolis police department, and the city of Minneapolis. Three years ago (July 22, 2006) a "rookie" "go-getter" cop shot Fong Lee 8 times, 4 times in the back, and then when the youth was down, another 4 times, killing him. Two days later the cop was back at work, taken off leave by the Minneapolis pig chief Tim Dolan. A so-called "internal investigation" and almost a year later a grand jury exonerated the executioner, Jason Andersen.
A grand jury cleared Andersen of any wrong doing June 28, 2007, and Andersen was awarded the Medal of Valor, the Minneapolis cop department's second highest award July 28, 2008, for his "heroic actions to bravely engage the suspect with little regard for his own safety."
Fong Lee was riding his bike with his friends near a school playground, when Andersen and his partner decided to follow them. The cops have not given a reason why they decided to follow the kids. The cops ran into Fong Lee's bike, knocking him over. The cops' version is that Fong Lee just dropped his bike and took off running, but other witnesses say that the cops hit Fong Lee's bike. The two cops also claim that once after they were following the youths they saw the kids exchange something between themselves. The executioner said that he saw a gun; his partner (Craig Benz) said that he thought it was drugs. Both the drugs and gun stories have been used in news stories. Part of the chase was caught on several videos. The family and their lawyers believe that the video taken from the police car was expunged of footage contradicting the 2 cops' version. An expert witness for Lee's family said that Fong Lee did not have a gun in his hand in the video. The city of Minneapolis is currently trying to prevent the words of the police spokesperson, Sgt Garcia, from being used in the civil case because the Sargent actually admitted that he saw no gun in the video.
Chief Dolan said 2 days after the murder that Fong Lee had a criminal record, was a gang banger and that the gun had his fingerprints on it. At this news conference Dolan described it as a "clean kill." Other cops have said that they told Dolan before he spoke that the gun had no DNA, fingerprints or any identifying material on it. Fong Lee's right hand and arm were bloody from his wounds. He was right-handed but the gun was found nearest his left hand, and Andersen has said that he did not move the gun. The pig chief's post mortem criminalization of Fong Lee is a cowardly lie.
The gun that the cops are claiming Fong Lee had was reported by the police themselves to have been stolen in a burglary, that the cops had found the weapon, and at the time of the execution it was supposed to be in police lockup. The owner of the weapon said that the cops had told him that they would return it after the trial of the persons accused of a burglary, but that long after that trial the cops had not returned it. Ten days after Fong Lee was executed, another cop filed a supplementary police report claiming that there was a mix up in the serial number of the gun in the burglary.
With the recent controversy prominent in the local media which was caused by the imminent civil suit trial brought by the Lee family, Chief Dolan finally returned from vacation April 7 and made a brief statement that no gun was thrown down and that the pigs will be vindicated. He has said nothing further about his former claim of fingerprints or Fong Lee being a criminal.
In one of several other related stories discussed in recent media covered stories, April 7, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune reported that John Wuchko has filed a police brutality lawsuit against the Minneapolis Pig Department because he was severely beaten when his car was stopped on May 30, 2003 by Minneapolis cop Charles (Chip) Storlie. In November 2007, a Minneapolis police department undercover cop (Duy Ngo) won a $4.5 Million settlement against the Minneapolis Pig Department—Storlie shot Ngo 6 times in a drug bust in February 2003. Wuchko was never charged for anything related to the traffic incident that resulted in his severe beating. He filed an excessive force allegation with the city's Civilian Police Review Authority. The allegations were sustained, and the department disciplined Storlie by placing a letter of reprimand in his file.
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